Cubs can’t hold 8-0 lead, fall to Padres to open long road trip

SAN DIEGO (AP) — For a while, it looked as if the Chicago Cubs had gotten their longest road trip of the season off to a rousing start.

Unfortunately, there were still four innings to play.

After leading 8-0 going into the bottom of the sixth in San Diego on Monday night, the Cubs surrendered nine unanswered runs, capped off when Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a go-ahead, two-run home run with two outs in the eighth as the Padres stormed back to stun Chicago, 9-8.

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The comeback started in the bottom of the sixth, when San Diego sent 10 batters to the plate and scored seven runs, chasing Cubs starter Javier Assad from the game and then getting to relievers Jose Cuas and Luke Little.

Then, on the 20th anniversary of the first Padres game at Petco Park, Tatis exuberantly celebrated the moment that fully erased an 8-0 deficit in the bottom of the eighth, belting a two-run shot to left off Cubs closer Adbert Alzolay, inserted into the game to try to get the Cubs to the finish line.

Instead, Padres closer Robert Suarez came in for the top of the ninth and set the Cubs down in order.

Tatis held his bat out with his left arm as he watched the ball sail into the left-field seats, flipped it, then hollered and pumped his fists as he started his trot. He was wearing custom cleats honoring the late Hall of Famer and Padres legend Tony Gwynn.

Rookie Jackson Merrill was aboard on a leadoff walk against Alzolay (1-1).

“It was amazing. But all credit to the boys,” Tatis said. “We were down 8-0, and we were never out of the game. We kept building, we kept taking good at-bats against tough pitches.

“The boys started executing. We started moving the line, we kept believing in each other, and that was just the final blow.”

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Long trip

That blow was tough to absorb for the Cubs, who were kicking off a three-city, nine-game trip out West. That ties for their longest road trip this season in number of games, but it’s the only one out West of that length.

They play two more in San Diego on Tuesday and Wednesday before three games in Seattle and three more in Arizona. Chicago won five of six on its first homestand of the season to leave for the trip on a high note but fell to 6-4 with Monday’s stinging defeat.

Assad, the right-hander who grew up across the border from San Diego in Tijuana, took a two-hit shutout and an 8-0 lead into the sixth. But the Padres pulled within a run in that inning, highlighted by two-run homers from Jake Cronenworth and Xander Bogaerts. The Padres had five hits, a walk and reached on an error that inning.

Assad allowed a leadoff walk to Tatis before being chased by Cronenworth’s two-run homer to right, his first of the season. Cuas came on and the next three Padres batters reached, starting with Manny Machado on an error by shortstop Dansby Swanson that made three of the runs unearned.

Ha-Seong Kim hit a two-run triple and Luis Campusano an RBI grounder. Bogaerts capped the scoring with a two-run shot off Luke Little, his first. Tatis flied out to right to end the inning.

Assad allowed two runs and three hits, with seven strikeouts and three walks.

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Cubs get to Darvish

Padres starter Yu Darvish, who pitched for the Cubs from 2018-2020, threw 42 pitches in the second inning, when the Cubs scored four runs on three hits, two walks and a hit batter. Darvish twice loaded the bases, and Ian Happ and Cody Bellinger each hit a two-run single.

Darvish got through a quick third inning but was done for the night after allowing four runs and four hits while striking out four and walking three. It was just the 10th time in 281 career starts, including the postseason, that Darvish went three or fewer innings.

The Cubs then jumped on Pedro Avila for four more runs in the fourth. After the Cubs loaded the bases with one out, Bellinger hit a sacrifice fly, Christopher Morel hit an RBI double and Swanson tripled in two more.

It’s the shoes

In conjunction with his branding company, Xample, Tatis plans to unveil 50 pairs of custom cleats this season. His choice for Monday night, featuring different designs on each cleat, honored Gwynn, known as Mr. Padre, who played his entire 20-season career in San Diego. Gwynn died in 2014 at age 54.

“Definitely the shoes,” Tatis said with a laugh. “The power came from above. Always grateful. Definitely a little bit inspired today. I’m going to keep playing with them. Hopefully, they keep sending good luck. Just happy I was wearing those shoes today.”

Said manager Mike Shildt: “It was a big homer. Impressive. Impressive guy. Real proud of him.”

Tatis slammed into the wall in right after just missing Swanson’s two-run triple in the fourth that gave the Cubs an 8-0 lead.

Shildt said Tatis came up to him in the dugout and said, “‘Man, just a game of inches.’ I said, ‘Yeah, sometimes things don’t work out, and we’ve got to keep fighting.’ This was when it was 8-0, and he said, ‘Don’t worry, we’re going to keep fighting,’ and he patted me on the back.”

Wandy Peralta (1-0) got the win and Suarez the save, his fourth.

Up next

The Cubs haven’t named a starter for Tuesday night’s game, while the Padres will go with RHP Joe Musgrove (1-1, 6.28).

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