In Thursday’s finale, the Cubs look to win their fourth in a row and sweep a three-game series from the Padres, who are trying to avoid their first 11-game road losing streak in 38 years.
Chicago (19-14) went a NL-best 55-26 at home last season en route to winning its second straight Central title, but didn’t look much like a two-time defending division champ last month. The Cubs opened 2009 by losing five of its first nine at Wrigley, but have gone 6-1 there this month.
Chicago totaled a season-high four home runs in Wednesday’s rain-shortened 6-4 win over the Padres (13-21) - the Cubs’ ninth in 12 games overall. The game was called following a 58-minute delay before the bottom of the eighth after a barrage of lightning and rain.
Ryan Theriot(notes) hit two more home runs giving him five this season - more than sluggers Aramis Ramirez(notes) (four), Milton Bradley(notes) (four), Derrek Lee(notes) (three) and reigning NL rookie of the year Geovany Soto(notes) (one). Theriot, a slap-hitting shortstop, hit four home runs in the previous two seasons combined.
“Theriot with a two-homer game - how about that?” Chicago manager Lou Piniella said with a grin.
The Cubs have won seven of nine over the Padres since the start of last season, and are seeking their first three-game sweep over them at Wrigley since April 30-May 2, 1999.
While Chicago is heating up at home, San Diego has lost 10 straight road games for the first time since 1987. The Padres haven’t dropped 11 such contests since a franchise-worst 13-game skid from April 25-May 18, 1971.
For the second straight night, Adrian Gonzalez(notes) hit a two-run homer in the first inning to put the Padres ahead 2-0, but San Diego went on to lose for the 18th time in 22 games after starting the season 9-3.
Gonzalez, who has homered in three consecutive games, is batting .357 (10 for 28) with four homers, three doubles and nine runs in his last seven games at Wrigley. He’s had no luck versus Ryan Dempster(notes) (2-2, 4.98 ERA), though, going hitless with three strikeouts in seven career at-bats against him.
Dempster allowed five runs and seven hits with a season-high nine strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings of a 12-6 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday.
In his only start against the Padres last season, Dempster gave up six hits and struck out 12 in 8 1-3 innings of a 4-0 home win on May 15. The right-hander is 1-3 with a 1.77 ERA in seven games - two starts - versus San Diego at Wrigley.
Gaudin, who signed with the Padres in April after being released by Chicago, appeared in 24 games for the Cubs after coming over from Oakland with Rich Harden(notes). Gaudin went 2-1 with a 6.48 ERA in 13 relief appearances at Wrigley.
On Friday, the right-hander allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings of a 2-0 loss at Houston.