Clayton Richard will try to keep that momentum going and win a fourth straight decision for the second time this year when San Diego plays the third contest of a four-game series versus the Chicago Cubs this afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Richard is 10-5 with a 3.80 earned run average this season and is coming off Friday’s victory over San Francisco. The 26-year-old lefty held the Giants to a pair of runs on six hits and two walks over six frames of a 3-2 triumph.
Acquired from the White Sox at last year’s trade deadline for Jake Peavy, Richard faces the Cubs for the first time in his career this afternoon. He has a tough act to follow after Jon Garland extended his scoreless innings streak to 17 innings with seven frames of four-hit ball in last night’s 1-0 victory.
“Jon gets in a groove and continues to progress as the game goes on,” said Padres manager Bud Black."
Garland didn’t need much offensive support, which was good since the Padres managed just one run. That came in the first inning, when Chase Headley grounded out with the bases loaded while Jerry Hairston Jr. crossed the plate.
That was enough to give the Padres their third straight victory and eighth in nine games, as well as a five-game advantage over the Giants for the top spot in the National League West.
Chicago’s Randy Wells drew a tough-luck loss after giving up just the one run and three hits over seven innings, while striking out six.
“They have a good pitching staff,” said Cubs outfielder Xavier Nady of the Padres. “Obviously their bullpen is very good, and that’s one of the main reasons they are in first place.”
Chicago did give San Diego a scare in the ninth, when Blake DeWitt hit a long fly ball to right field off closer Heath Bell with a man on. However, Ryan Ludwick made a leaping catch at the ivy to secure the final out and give Bell his MLB- leading 36th save.
“There is a brief moment when you get scared, but you track the outfielder, you track the ball, and then the ball is in the glove, and it feels great,” said Black.
The Cubs, who have lost five of seven and are just 4-16 over their last 20 games, will give Casey Coleman his first major league start after sending another young hurler to the bullpen in Thomas Diamond.
Diamond struggled over his first three career starts, while Coleman has pitched to an 8.64 ERA over four relief outings. The 23-year-old righty was tagged for six runs over 2 1/3 innings of his MLB debut on Aug. 2, but has allowed just two runs over six frames and three appearances since.
Coleman, a 15th round pick in 2008, was last in action on Friday in St. Louis and walked one with three strikeouts over two hitless innings. He faces the Padres for the first time today.
The Padres and Cubs are meeting for the first time since San Diego took five of nine matchups a year ago. The Padres had lost five straight at Wrigley Field before taking the first two games of this set.