What started out as a pitcher’s duel between San Diego’s Eric Stults and Chicago’s Travis Wood, quickly changed into something a bit different.
Through the top of the 6th both pitchers had allowed just 6 hits collectively, Wood going 1-2-3 in the first four of those innings. It was designed to be their kind of day as the temperature was chilly with the wind blowing in.
Despite that wind in the bottom of the seventh, Scott Hairston managed to get the ball out just up and over enough in left center with Wellington Castillo on board to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. It was his second homerun of the series, third on the year. Darwin Barney followed it up by taking a free base.
Stults was pulled shortly after Dave Sappelt hit a flyout all the way to the warning track. Righty Brad Brach was in from the pen when Wood tried to help his own cause as he singled and stole second. After a walk to Ransom, lefty Joe Thatcher came in to get the Padres out of the inning without any more damage.
Even with only a 2-run lead the Cubs looked as if they had both the pitching as well as the defense to close it out. Chase Headley popped up in foul territory in the top of the 7th and Anthony Rizzo went to go get it, leaping over the tarp holding his glove up for the ump to see as he lay between it and the brick. In the 8th, Julio Borbon cleanly fielded a Nick Hundley fly ball as he stumbled over the bullpen mound, wind swirling and all.
That was about it for the defensive help in the 8th as most of the inning went quite the opposite direction. Wood allowed a leadoff single to Jesus Guzman then shortly after a walk to Kyle Blanks. Yonder Alonso was in to pinch hit and his blooper found the grass as a running Borbon called off Barney in shallow right, who couldn’t come up with it. Shawn Camp came in for Wood but couldn’t end the inning as his pitch to Chris Denorfia got away from Castillo as a passed ball. Castillo lacked hustle in his effort to retrieve it and Blanks sprinted for home, scoring the tying run.
After a walk to Denorfia, south paw James Russell was brought into the game. Everth Cabrera RBI-singled into center to give San Diego a 3-2 advantage. Headley then took first on a single just out of Barney’s reach at second, scoring the 4th and final run for the Padres. 3 of those would be charged to Wood and another to Camp, allowing Russell’s ERA to remain a goose egg.
The only last minute offense the Cubs could muster up was a 9th inning double by Nate Schierholtz. It wasn’t enough as they would go down with a wasted effort from Wood, who took the loss (2-2). Thatcher snagged the win (2-0) and Huston Street with the save (6).
The Cubs regroup for their 3 game set with the Cincinnati Reds already in town. Friday’s start at 1:20pm will feature Mike Leake for the Reds and Carlos Villanueva for the home team.