Cubs-Padres Preview

Although an unexpected outburst helped end their losing streak,

the Chicago Cubs have been plagued by their inconsistency at the

plate in key situations.

They might continue to scuffle against a former Cub who has

pitched well at home for the San Diego Padres.

Andrew Cashner looks to hold an opponent to two earned runs or

less for a sixth straight home start while dealing Chicago its 11th

loss in 14 games Sunday.

Following a 3-for-19 stretch, Darwin Barney broke out with three

hits – including his first home run since July 14 – and two RBIs to

help the NL Central-worst Cubs (55-74) snap a four-game skid with

Saturday’s 3-2 victory.

“Tip my hat to Barney for giving me those two runs,” said Jeff

Samardzija, who has Chicago’s two wins over the past eight

games.

While the Padres (58-71) went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring

position and have a .191 average in those situations since July 19,

the Cubs are batting a major league-worst .180 over that span.

Barney (5 for 27), Starlin Castro (3 for 31) and Anthony Rizzo (6

for 36) are among those who aren’t coming through in clutch

moments.

Chicago has gone 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position while

scoring three runs in 17 innings in this series since a six-run

first in an 8-6 loss in Friday’s opener.

Castro (4 for 46) and Rizzo (12 for 79) have also struggled

overall as of late, though Junior Lake (13 for 30) and Dioner

Navarro (8 for 22) have tried to pick up the slack.

The Cubs, who snapped a five-game skid in San Diego, look to win

consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 9-10 in St. Louis.

They’ll take on a familiar face in Cashner (8-8, 3.74 ERA), who was

sent to San Diego in exchange for Rizzo in January of 2012.

Since posting a 3.79 ERA and getting 20 runs of support in three

straight victories, the right-hander has a 3.32 ERA and received

three total runs while losing his last three starts. He’s pitched

particularly well at home, however, going 2-2 with a 2.06 ERA in

his last five starts there.

Cashner is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three career appearances

versus the Cubs. He allowed four walks and five runs over four

innings in his only start against them, a 6-2 loss at Wrigley Field

on May 1.

Chicago starter Chris Rusin (2-3, 3.08) has a 2.04 ERA in his

last three starts, but has dropped his last two while receiving

only one run of support. He yielded two runs but matched a career

high by allowing 10 hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 4-2 loss to

Washington on Tuesday.

“I couldn’t find my two-seam (fastball) but I was able to find

some other pitches to get me out of jams,” Rusin said.

The left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in his last three road

starts and hasn’t allowed a run there in 13 innings.

He could have his hands full with Will Venable, who is 6 for 8

with two home runs in this series. He’s also batting .391 with

seven homers over his last 22 games overall.