Lilly makes his first start since being ejected in the first inning of his most recent appearance when the Cubs open a three-game set against the first-place San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field on Friday.
Lilly (4-4, 3.96 ERA) was thrown out for hitting Atlanta’s Edgar Renteria in the first inning of Chicago’s 5-4 loss to the Braves on Sunday. Home-plate umpire Jim Wolf ejected Lilly after he felt the pitch was intentional and possibly a form of retaliation for Atlanta’s Tim Hudson throwing at Chicago’s Alfonso Soriano the night before.
The left-hander threw just 10 pitches and struck out the first two hitters before being tossed. He is expected to be fined, but not suspended.
“Unfortunately, it was like (Wolf) had already made up his mind whether I was intentionally trying to do it or not. In that situation, clearly the last thing I want to do is get kicked out of the game there,” Lilly told the Cubs’ official Web site.
Chicago (30-35) can use a good outing from Lilly, who has allowed seven homers and is 0-2 with an 8.47 ERA in his last four starts. Lilly is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three games - two starts - against San Diego, but hasn’t faced the Padres since 2004.
The Cubs are looking to win their third straight after Cesar Izturis’ two-run double in the eighth inning helped them beat Seattle 5-4 on Thursday and take two of three in the series.
Soriano went 2-for-5 to snap an 0-for-21 slump over his previous five games. He is 4-for-12 with a triple against the Padres this season.
Chicago is 8-4 since losing six in a row from May 27-June 2 and has either won or split its last three series. The Cubs are in second place in the NL Central, 5 1/2 games behind Milwaukee.
“I think it’s starting to reflect more confidence here,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “We weren’t winning these games earlier in the year. … You’ve got to win the tight games.”
The Padres (38-27) won 7-1 at Tampa Bay on Thursday for their second straight victory after losing a season-high four in a row.
San Diego holds a half-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West and will try to win its fifth consecutive road series this weekend. The Padres pitchers have allowed one earned run in the last two games to lower their ERA to a major league-best 2.94.
“Their pitching is as advertised. … They lead the majors in ERA for a reason,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.
Wells allowed three runs and six hits in six innings without issuing a walk for a second straight start, but didn’t receive a decision in San Diego’s 6-5 loss to Seattle on Saturday.
The 44-year-old left-hander allowed one run in eight innings to beat the Cubs 2-1 at home on May 23. He is 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA in four starts against Chicago.
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez was one of six San Diego players to drive in a run Thursday. He is 3-for-8 with a homer and four RBIs in his last two games, and is batting .333 (7-for-21) with a homer and three RBIs in five games against the Cubs this season.
The Padres could be without third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, who left Thursday’s game with a lower back strain. He is 4-for-13 with two homers against the Cubs this season.
San Diego has won three of five from the Cubs in 2007, including two of three at home from May 22-24.