Cubs-Padres Preview

The San Diego Padres are fading in both the NL West and

wild-card races and they are running out of time to find answers to

their frustrating offensive struggles.

The slumping Padres will try to avoid a fourth straight loss

Wednesday night when they continue their series against the Chicago

Cubs.

San Diego (87-70) lost 5-2 Tuesday to fall 1 1/2 games behind

wild card-leading Atlanta and two games back of San Francisco in

the division. The Padres visit the Giants for three games beginning

Friday.

Those games may not matter if San Diego’s offense remains as

anemic as it has been this month. The Padres had four hits, three

errors and stranded five Tuesday, one night after they lost 1-0 to

the Cubs (72-85).

They have scored four runs in the last three games and have

averaged 2.9 in the last 12 while going 5-7.

“Here’s the deal – we know where we are. We’ve got to play good

baseball,” manager Bud Black said. ”We’ve got to get the bats

going. We have to score some runs and hopefully we break out

tomorrow and this could get contagious through the lineup. We have

to play good defense, we have to do everything to win a game. And

that’s what we’ve done the entire year.”

The offense has been hurt by the absence of Will Venable, who

has missed the last two games with back stiffness. The outfielder

was hitting .477 with 11 runs scored over 14 games prior to his

injury.

Venable went on the disabled list earlier this year with a

similar issue. For now, however, he is considered day to day.

“I was hopeful (to play) today and it didn’t come around as much

as I thought it was going to,” he told the Padres’ official

website. “(The trainers are) right in the sense that if I go back

out too early, it’s going to run too high a risk of setting me back

and then I’m no good to anyone.”

After ace Mat Latos failed to deliver, San Diego will turn to

Chris Young (1-0, 1.20 ERA), who is scheduled to make his fourth

start of the season and third since coming off the disabled list

earlier this month.

Young gave up one run and three hits in five innings of a 4-3

win over Cincinnati on Friday, throwing 72 pitches before leaving

without a decision. Young went four innings in his previous

start.

The right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA in six starts against

the Cubs, including 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA in three at home.

Alfonso Soriano homered twice, including a tie-breaking, two-run

shot in the sixth, to help the Cubs win their eighth straight on

the road. They’ve allowed 16 runs during the streak, the team’s

longest away from home since a nine-game run July 23-Aug. 15,

2008.

The Cubs will hand the ball to Randy Wells (8-13, 4.28), who

looks to win his third straight start.

Wells gave up six hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 2-0 win over San

Francisco on Wednesday. In his previous start, he allowed one run

in eight innings of a 7-2 victory over St. Louis.

“We’re playing some good ball right now, everybody is loose,

everybody is having fun. We wish it wasn’t too late, but we’re

trying to build for next year and everybody is responding pretty

well,” Wells said.

The right-hander was outstanding against the Padres on Aug. 17,

giving up one run and three hits in seven innings of a 1-0

loss.