Some offensive help would certainly please Jeff Samardzija .
He'll try to avoid the longest losing streak of his career Monday night and help the Cubs to a sixth win in seven home meetings with the Padres, winners of four straight.
Chicago (9-15) and San Diego (9-15) occupy the basement in the NL Central and West, respectively. However, the Cubs have won four of six while the Padres are aiming for their longest winning streak since an eight-game run Aug. 19-27.
The Cubs may be coming off Sunday's 6-4 loss at Miami, but they took the previous three games to win their first series since going 2-1 at Pittsburgh to open the season.
"It's awesome," shortstop Starlin Castro said. "The team got off a little slow, but it's good for us to take this series and feel a little better about things right now."
The Cubs may not be feeling that way about their offense, which is batting .229, including a major league-worst .151 with runners in scoring position.
Chicago will try to begin changing that in this four-game set with the Padres as it begins a stretch of 16 of 19 at home. The Cubs have won five of the last six meetings at Wrigley Field, batting .285 with runners in scoring position.
That type of production would certainly be welcomed by Samardzija (1-4, 3.03 ERA), who is trying to snap a personal four-game slide since beating the Pirates on opening day.
The right-hander last dropped four straight starts from June 9-27. He has a 4.01 ERA during the current skid, turning in two quality starts but getting no run support in either outing.
That was the case Wednesday, when Samardzija yielded only a solo homer and scattered six other hits while fanning eight in six innings of a 1-0 loss at Cincinnati.
"It's not frustrating - it's just the first month of the season," Samardzija told the team's official website. "You have faith in your team, it's early in the season and you keep pitching and see what happens."
He's 2-1 with a 2.20 ERA in four games - two starts - against the Padres. However, he was the hard-luck loser opposite Clayton Richard - Monday's scheduled starter - in a 2-0 loss at San Diego on Aug. 8.
Samardzija allowed one run and four hits in seven innings, while Richard tossed a five-hitter as the Padres swept that three-game series.
This time, Richard (0-2, 7.94) is trying to rebound from one of the worst - and shortest - starts of his career.
The left-hander was tagged for six runs in 1 2-3 innings of a 6-3 loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday in his first outing in nine days due to the flu. It was the Padres' most recent defeat, and the first time Richard failed to complete the second inning since surrendering six runs in one-plus frames of a loss to Cleveland with the Chicago White Sox on July 9, 2009.
He's won both starts against the Cubs, yielding one run in 15 2-3 innings.
The Padres have a .289 average with runners in scoring position during a four-game winning streak, which continued with Sunday's 6-4 victory over San Francisco.
"We're definitely playing a lot better baseball right now," right fielder Chris Denorfia said. "Our pitching's been outstanding the last week, maybe more. Our hitting's coming around."
|San Diego Padres|
|April 21, 2013||Kyle Blanks||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left shoulder injury|
|April 20, 2013||Clayton Richard||Day-to-Day||Flu|
|April 18, 2013||Tyson Ross||15-Day DL||Left shoulder subluxation|
|April 16, 2013||Cameron Maybin||15-Day DL||Right wrist impingement|
|April 09, 2013||Carlos Quentin||Day-to-Day||Left game - right wrist|
|March 30, 2013||Cory Luebke||60-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|April 14, 2013||Steve Clevenger||60-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|April 13, 2013||Steve Clevenger||Day-to-Day||Left oblique injury|
|April 13, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|March 31, 2013||Darwin Barney||15-Day DL||Left knee laceration|
|March 31, 2013||Scott Baker||60-Day DL||Strained right elbow|
|March 31, 2013||Darwin Barney||15-Day DL||Left knee laceration|
CHICAGO (AP) -- Darwin Barney and Cody Ransom combined to keep the Chicago Cubs on a roll.
Barney and Ransom each drove in a pair of runs and made key defensive plays to help the Cubs beat the San Diego Padres 5-3 on Monday.
Barney went 2 for 3 with two doubles and Ransom went 2 for 4 with a home run.
The Cubs have won five of seven after a 5-13 start.
"Barney's solidified our defense, believe me," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of his second baseman.
"He's just that guy when he's out there, he's going to do a lot of things throughout the course of a game. But he's going to do at least one thing a day that's gonna change the aspect of the game. It's gonna save pitchers umpteen pitches; whether it's turning a double play or a play like tonight. That's why he won the gold glove, he's the best in the league. That's how much he means to us defensively, he changes the game around defensively."
Sveum was referring to a diving stop that Barney made in the seventh inning to rob Chase Headley of an RBI hit with no outs and men on first and second.
The play came an inning after the Cubs had broken a tie game on run scoring hits by Barney and Ransom.
"The bottom of our order was huge tonight," Sveum said. "Cody came up with a big home run and huge base hit to take the lead back after we just gave it up. So that was huge, he did a nice job again."
Ransom, who was picked up on waivers from the Padres on April 16, ended a bases-loaded threat later in the seventh inning with a running, barehanded pick and throw to get Jedd Gyorko at first.
"That barehanded play saved the game for us," Barney said. "It's nice to have a guy like him who knows how to play the game the right way. He knows the situation, he knows who's running on that barehanded play."
Kevin Gregg got the final out of the eighth with men on second and third and worked a perfect ninth to get his fourth save.
The bullpen's turnaround has been one of the primary reasons for the Cubs' improvement. The relievers have a 1.35 ERA in their past 12 games since April 18.
Michael Bowden (1-1) got the win in relief of Jeff Samardzija , who allowed three runs and four hits in five innings. He struck out eight and walked four.
San Diego's Clayton Richard (0-3) gave up five runs and seven hits, including two home runs, in 5 2/3 innings. It was an improvement on his previous start on April 23, when he allowed six earned runs in 1 2-3 innings in a loss to Milwaukee.
"It is (better), but I mean, games like this those things don't matter," Richard said. "When you don't win you don't win. I wish I could have put us in a better position to win a baseball game and I wasn't able to do that, so that's all that really matters."
The Padres loaded the bases with one in the seventh trailing by two and Yonder Alonso came to the plate.
Alonso was then called out on a check swing strike three and Ransom made a great play to get Gyorko to end the inning.
"We just couldn't get the big hit," Padres manager Bud Black said. "They made pitches. A tough call on Yonder with the bases loaded, but we just couldn't seem to cash in when we had a couple guys on. We got the runners in scoring position a couple times. Just couldn't get the big knock."
NOTES: Padres manager Bud Black said relievers Huston Street and Luke Gregorson were not available for Monday's game. Street and Gregorson had both worked in San Diego's prior three games. ... Padres pitcher Tyson Ross will work in middle relief during his rehab appearance Tuesday with Triple-A Tuscon. Ross has been on the disabled list since April 20 with an impingement in his left shoulder. ... The Cubs acquired Ransom on April 16 off waivers from the Padres. Ransom was 0 for 11 with San Diego on the season. ... Samardzija's eight strikeouts on the night gave him 47 in the month of April, the second most by a Cubs pitcher for the month. Matt Garza is first with 51 in 2011. ... Cubs pitcher Scott Baker (60-day DL) threw from 45 feet as he begins a throwing program while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. ... Reliever Kyuji Fujikawa threw a side session prior to the game. He's expected to throw another bullpen on Thursday before making a rehab appearance with Triple-A Iowa on Sunday. Fujikawa has been on the disabled list since April 13 with a forearm strain.