Will Venable's Two Amazing Catches Help Padres Beat Cubs 3-0

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Padres Shut Out Cubs, 3-0, On Wednesday

San Diego, CA (Sports Network) - Chris Young and four relievers combined on a four-hit shutout and Will Venable made two incredible catches in the outfield to rob potential home runs, as the Padres beat the Chicago Cubs, 3-0, at Petco Park.

Despite the win, the Padres failed to gain ground in the NL West and wild card races. Atlanta, which won at home over Florida Wednesday, remains 1 1/2 games ahead of the Padres in the wild card race. The Braves have three games left and the Padres have four remaining, with three of them coming at NL West- leading San Francisco to close the season. The Giants stayed two games in front of San Diego after a win over Arizona Wednesday night.

David Eckstein stroked an RBI double and Chase Headley added a run-scoring single, as the Padres snapped a three-game skid.

Pitching in just his third game since returning from a five-month absence while recovering from a strained shoulder, Young (2-0) allowed three hits, walked two batters and fanned six.

Randy Wells (8-14) allowed six hits and three runs over seven innings for the Cubs.

The Cubs, who had won the first two contests of this four-game series, pulled off a double steal in the opening inning, but Young escaped the second and third jam with nobody out. Marlon Byrd grounded out, and Aramis Ramirez and Xavier Nady both struck out.

Alfonso Soriano led off the second with a blast to center field, but Venable jumped at the wall to pull the ball in and keep the game scoreless.

Adrian Gonzalez walked leading off the San Diego second, and Yorvit Torrealba bunted for a hit with one out. With two down, Headley's infield single plated Gonzalez.

Venable was at it again in the third. With a runner on first and two outs. Ramirez sent a deep fly to left-center. Venable, a former basketball player at Princeton, timed his leap perfectly and extended over the wall to take a home run away.

Ryan Ludwick doubled leading off the bottom of the fourth, moved to third on Torrealba's bunt and scored when Wells' pitch went between the legs of catcher Koyie Hill and got away.

Eckstein doubled to left to drive in Luis Durango in the fifth and San Diego's bullpen did the rest. Ryan Webb, Luke Gregerson, Mike Adams and Heath Bell held down the fort, combining to retire 15 straight batters at one point. Bell notched his 45th save.

Game Notes

The Padres matched their all-time record of 20 shutouts in a season...The Cubs are 14-4 on the road since Mike Quade took over the managerial reins, August 23...Scott Maine threw a scoreless eighth for the Cubs, whose bullpen's 18 1/3 scoreless innings streak is its longest since a 21 1/3 inning run, August 27- September 2 of last season...San Diego has gone 27-13 against NL Central opponents this season...Bell has converted each of his last 32 save opportunities.


Cubs Face Reeling Padres, Looking To Knock Them Farther Out Of Race

(Sports Network) - If the San Diego Padres fail to reach the postseason, the team's lack of scoring down the stretch could wind up being the reason why.

With a pivotal series on the horizon, the Padres hope their sputtering offense is able to break out in tonight's clash with the Chicago Cubs from Petco Park.

San Diego has lost its last three contests and lost ground in both the National League West and wild card races following yesterday's 5-2 setback to the Cubs. The defeat pushed the Padres two games behind rival San Francisco for first place in the division with five remaining in the regular season, and 1 1/2 games in back of front-running Atlanta in the wild card standings.

Following tomorrow's finale of this four-game set with Chicago, the Padres will travel to San Francisco for three straight meetings with the Giants to decide the NL West champion.

Alfonso Soriano was the difference-maker in Tuesday's matchup, as the Chicago outfielder belted a two-run homer in the top of the sixth inning to snap a 2-2 deadlock and added a solo shot in the eighth to account for the final margin.

The Cubs also received a strong showing from starting pitcher Ryan Dempster (15-11), with the veteran holding San Diego's slumping bats to two runs and just four hits while racking up nine strikeouts in seven innings.

"I'm just trying to finish as strong as I can," Dempster said. "It's a nice win for us."

Padres starter Mat Latos (14-9) was dealt his fourth straight loss after being reached for four runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings of work.

Nick Hundley had a two-run homer off Dempster in the bottom of the fifth, but San Diego mustered only three other hits over the remainder of the night. The Padres were shut out in Monday's opener of this series and managed just six hits in a blowout loss to Cincinnati the previous day.

"Here's the deal," said Padres manager Bud Black. "We know where we are. We have to get the bats going."

Black should be able to count on his starting pitcher tonight, provided Chris Young is able to maintain his recent level of performance. Since returning from a five-month absence while recovering from a strained shoulder, the towering right-hander has yielded only two runs and six hits in a combined nine innings in no-decisions against St. Louis and Cincinnati.

Young was able to last five innings and throw 72 pitches in Friday's encounter with the Reds, limiting the NL Central champions to one run and three hits in his team's eventual 4-3 win.

The Princeton product is 2-1 with a 3.63 earned run average in six career starts against the Cubs, with both wins having taken place at Petco Park.

Chicago, which improved to 10-4 since September 13 and has now prevailed in three of its last four tests, turns to Randy Wells tonight for the final start of his second full season in the majors. The right-hander has played a part in his club's late-season surge by winning his last two starts, both in impressive fashion.

Wells surrendered only one run and five hits over eight sharp innings to down St. Louis on September 14, then followed up with 7 2/3 shutout frames to lead the Cubs to a 2-0 victory over San Francisco that helped the Padres' cause this past Wednesday. The back-to-back strong efforts upped his 2010 record to 8-13 and lowered his ERA to 4.28.

The 28-year-old also pitched well in a tough-luck loss to San Diego at Wrigley Field on August 17, allowing just one run and three hits while coming out on the short end of a 1-0 verdict. In his lone career appearance at Petco Park, Wells was touched for three runs and fanned seven batters over seven innings in a loss on May 23, 2009.

Despite its two defeats in the first two games of this series, San Diego still has won nine of its last 12 bouts with the Cubs. The Padres swept a four-game set from Chicago at Wrigley Field between August 16-19.

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