Tony Gwynn & Jeff Passan: These teams turn it around
Two teams headed in different directions meet for the first time this season when the streaking San Diego Padres welcome the stumbling Chicago Cubs on Friday in the start of a four-game series at Petco Park.
San Diego (13-15) looks to extend its season-high winning streak to six games while Chicago (14-13) will try to avoid its fourth straight loss and sixth in seven games.
The Padres are 1-10 in their last 11 home meetings with the Cubs, and have been outscored 60-25.
But San Diego is coming off consecutive two-game road sweeps over NL West rivals San Francisco and Los Angeles. This was after San Diego had won consecutive games only twice en route to a 9-15 April record.
The Padres haven’t won six in a row overall since May 26-31.
Shortstop Khalil Greene’s eighth-inning homer provided all the offense, and Craig Hensley and two relievers combined on a two-hitter Friday in San Diego’s 3-0 win over the Dodgers.
Greene, who had four homers in his first six games this year, snapped a 20-game drought with his first since hitting two on April 9 against Colorado. He leads the Padres with five.
During its current run, San Diego has allowed just 17 runs and limited opponents to a .187 batting average. Chan Ho Park, who has played in the American League for most of the last four years, will try to keep the Padres’ winning ways going.
Park is 8-4 with a 3.44 ERA in 16 games, including 11 starts against the Cubs, but has not beaten them since Sept. 3, 1999 when he was with the Dodgers. He got a no-decision in his last start Sunday against his Los Angeles, allowing five runs and three walks—both season-highs—with six hits in a 6-5 win.
The victory started San Diego’s current winning streak.
Chicago has been shut out in three of its last five games, including a 6-0 defeat Thursday to Arizona. The Cubs’ anemic offense has been outscored 45-5 in their last six games.
“We’re just in a bad way right now,” Chicago manager Dusty Baker said. “We can’t seem to buy a run. You go through periods like that. It sure makes it tough. It doesn’t make life very pleasurable when you’re not scoring.”
Chicago will start struggling Carlos Zambrano (0-2, 5.35 ERA) in an attempt to stop the slide. He is 4-0 against San Diego with a 2.67 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 30 1-3 innings in five starts.
This is the deepest into a season in which the 24-year-old Zambrano has gone winless. He had two wins after six starts in 2005.
“I still have a long way to go,” Zambrano said. “I think I have to work on my command.”
The right-hander gave up seven runs, eight hits and walked five through four innings of Chicago’s 9-0 loss to Milwaukee on Sunday. It was the third time this season the Cubs failed to score a run in support of Zambrano and they have only scored just nine for him all season.
“Quite frankly, I want the animated, demonstrative, angry ‘Z’ to return to tell you the truth, because this new calm ‘Z’ (is not) working, so we want the old ‘Z’ back,” Baker said.