Clemens nicked early, Padres lose 6-3 to Cubs

Aug 24, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Jorge Soler (bottom) slides in safely at third as San Diego Padres third baseman Yangervis Solarte (26) awaits the throw on a fly ball hit by right fielder Jason Heyward (not pictured) during the fourth inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Jake Roth/Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Padres right-hander Paul Clemens had a career high for strikeouts and a season high for innings Wednesday.

He and San Diego just ran into one of baseball's best lineups and one of its best pitchers.

Clemens struck out six over 5 1/3 innings, but Kyle Hendricks threw six innings of two-run ball and the Chicago Cubs beat the Padres 6-3.

Clemens lost for the first time since July 31, and the Padres were swept in the three-game series.

Clemens allowed three runs in a rocky first inning.

Dexter Fowler led off the game with a double and Kris Bryant nearly launched his third homer of the series. Instead, his drive hit the top of the wall and ended up being a long single.

Ben Zobrist then hit a two-run triple and scored on Jorge Soler's sacrifice fly.

“I don't look at names, numbers, any of that,” Clemens said. “To me it's just when they step in the box I say, `Who is this guy? Wonder what his weakness is, how can I exploit it?' and I go to work.”

“He was really good after the first three batters,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “That's as good as he's been all year. He did enough to get to the sixth today and he had a quality outing.”

Hendricks (12-7), the major league ERA leader, gave up four hits, striking out eight and leaving with a 2.19 ERA. He has allowed no more than three earned runs in 17 straight starts and his ERA is 1.70 over that span.

Three Cubs relievers took over for the NL Central leaders, with Aroldis Chapman pitching the ninth for his 29th save in 32 chances.

Chapman was the problem at the end; Clemens at the start.

“I think he's just got to continue to work to come out of the bullpen ready to go,” Green said.

Added Clemens: “That's been the story my last two outings, that first inning. Maybe I just got to wind myself up more in the bullpen. Maybe visual the first couple of hitters of the game the last 10 pitches of the bullpen.”

Willson Contreras homered and Zobrist drove in two runs as the Cubs won for the 22nd time in 27 games. At 81-45, they are 36 games over .500 for the first time since ending the 1945 season at 98-56.

The Padres have dropped nine of their past 12.

Soler and Addison Russell also drove in runs for the Cubs.

Ryan Schimpf tripled and doubled for the Padres.

UP NEXT

Cubs: LHP Mike Montgomery (1-1, 2.77) starts Friday in the opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium. He makes his second start for the Cubs, after taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning on Sunday against the Colorado Rockies.

Padres: RHP Jarred Cosart (0-1, 4.54) opens Friday's three-game set at Miami. He was traded from the Marlins to San Diego last month.