Prior, who had been on the 15-day disabled list with soreness in his right shoulder, will make his first start since July 11 when he opens a three-game set against San Diego, his hometown team. The right-hander, who hasn’t won since June 14, allowed six runs in 4 2-3 innings of the 9-5 loss to Atlanta on July 11.
The Cubs will play three games in San Diego and three in Los Angeles.
“There’s a lot of distractions on the West Coast,” manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s a business trip. This isn’t a pleasure trip.”
Chicago has been one of the few National League teams to have success on the road this season. The Cubs are one of just four NL clubs with a winning record away from home.
With Sammy Sosa hitting home runs again, the Cubs are a threat in the NL Central race, trailing first-place Houston by 3 1/2 games. Sosa, suspended seven games for using a corked bat earlier this season, has 14 home runs since July 1—most in the majors.
San Diego returns home after finishing its road trip at 5-5. The Padres rallied to beat Philadelphia 5-2 in 10 innings Sunday.
“It’s a great way to close out a tough trip,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It was a tough two days (three games in less than 24 hours), but the guys grinded it out.”
STANDINGS: Cubs - 3rd place, 3 1/2 GB, NL Central. Padres - 5th place, 26 GB, NL West.
CUBS PROBABLE STARTER: Prior (8-5, 3.01 ERA). The right-hander has faced San Diego once in his career and didn’t get a decision in the Padres’ 6-5 win on July 30, 2002 at Wrigley Field. Prior failed to hold a 5-2 lead, allowing five runs and striking out 10 in six innings.
PADRES PROBABLE STARTER: Brian Lawrence (5-13, 4.86 ERA). The right-hander has lost his last four starts, pitching worse in each game. Lawrence allowed seven runs, including three homers, in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He has given up 18 earned runs in his last 23 2-3 innings.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Cubs - Eric Karros, .316 avg.; Sosa, 24 HRs; Moises Alou, 70 RBIs; Kenny Lofton, 65 runs and 21 SBs. Padres - Mark Loretta, .319 avg. and 49 runs; Ryan Klesko, 20 HRs and 59 RBIs; Ramon Vazquez, 9 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Padres, 2-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Cubs - 2B Mark Grudzielanek was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a broken right hand, a day after he was hit by a pitch from Arizona’s Miguel Batista. Grudzielanek, batting .305 and leading the Cubs with 123 hits, is expected to be out 2-4 weeks. … OF Sosa has 523 homers, 11 behind Jimmie Foxx for 11th place all-time. … 1B Karros is 2-for-17 in his career against Lawrence. Padres - RHP Rod Beck, who turned 35 on Sunday, is 15-for-15 in save opportunities since being signed as a minor-league free agent June 2. … C Miguel Ojeda stole his first career base Sunday. … 1B Klesko should be happy to be home after going 5-for-31 (.161) with one RBI on the 10-game road trip.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cubs - 28-25 on the road; Padres - 22-32 at home.
INJURIES: Cubs - 2B Grudzielanek (hand), 15-day DL; OF Tom Goodwin (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Chiasson (elbow), 60-day DL; LHP Will Ohman (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Corey Patterson (knee), 60-day DL. Padres - INF Keith Lockhart (back), 15-day DL; OF Jason Bay (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Trevor Hoffman (shoulder), 60-day DL.