Padres hammer Cubs, extend win streak to 9
Petco Park has never looked better to the San Diego Padres.
The Padres capped the first 9-0 homestand in franchise history on Sunday with a 7-2 win over the punchless Chicago Cubs that included small ball and large ball at their spacious downtown ballpark.
Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a three-run home run and finished with four RBIs, Chris Young pitched well and added a two-run single, and the Padres threw in a suicide squeeze bunt for good measure.
San Diego's nine-game winning streak is the longest in the NL this season and the longest active one in the majors. Even so, it merely pulled the Padres back to .500. They also swept the Reds and Giants on this homestand.
The homestand came after a 0-6 road trip, which included three losses to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. It also included some upheaval, when ace Jake Peavy vetoed a trade to the Chicago White Sox and the Padres traded Jody Gerut to Milwaukee for Tony Gwynn Jr., whose father spent his entire 20-year Hall of Fame career in San Diego.
"This is maybe the most fun experience I've had here in San Diego as far as the team winning, especially given the external distractions that have gone on this past week," Young said.
"This team's got some character to it, there's some fight in the guys," he added. "We certainly weren't going to hang our heads after that last road trip. But now we've got to continue it. It's a long season. There's still a lot of baseball to play."
It was San Diego's largest margin of victory since a 6-1 win against the Giants at home on April 12.
The Cubs didn't even score seven runs total on their entire road trip. Their offense disappeared during an 0-6 trip, scoring only five runs total. They lost their season-high seventh straight and tumbled to .500. It's their longest losing streak since May 2006, when they lost eight straight.
"I sometimes feel like we've been slapped around this past week, embarrassed," said Ted Lilly, who took the loss.
Manager Lou Piniella held a pregame meeting, which he termed "a positive talk."
"Hopefully it will bear some fruit starting tomorrow at home," he said. "I said the things I had to say. The players have to play on the field. We can talk all we want, we can be as positive as we want but they have to get the job done on the field."
Reed Johnson, who hit a two-run homer, said Piniella's talk should have some influence.
"It's not a case where you have a bunch of guys in the clubhouse who have cashed it in or who have given up," he said. "I think guys may be pressing too hard. But we have too many good players not to turn this thing around."
Young (4-2) added to the Cubs' misery by hitting a two-run single and holding them to two runs and four hits in seven innings. The 6-foot-10 right-hander had his first career multi-RBI game and third multi-hit game.
Kouzmanoff tied his career high for four RBIs. He doubled off Lilly (5-4) in the sixth to bring in Adrian Gonzalez. After the Cubs closed to 4-2 on Johnson's homer, Kouzmanoff hit a three-run shot off Aaron Heilman in the seventh, his fourth.
Gonzalez was aboard on an intentional walk after his older brother, Edgar, led off with a pinch-hit double.
Young retired the first 14 batters before Mike Fontenot singled to left-center with two outs in the fifth.
Young came to bat with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the inning and hit Lilly's first pitch to left-center to bring in Chase Headley and Drew Macias. Headley singled and Macias doubled before Josh Wilson was walked intentionally to bring up Young.
David Eckstein followed with a suicide squeeze that brought in Wilson for a 3-0 lead.
Young's only mistake came in the seventh, when he allowed Johnson's two-run homer on a high fastball. It was Johnson's first.
"I was trying to get it away and it ran back kind of middle, middle-in," Young said. "I was also trying to be aggressive and challenging at a point where I knew we had a four-run lead. The last thing I wanted was baserunners. I wanted them to hit their way on instead of walks. It was a 2-1 pitch and he hit it out. I tip my cap to him."
Young struck out four and walked none.
Lilly allowed five runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out four and walked two.
It was San Diego's first three-game sweep of the Cubs in San Diego since July 11-13, 1988. ... San Diego 2B Eckstein was back in the starting lineup two games after getting hit in the chest by a pitch from Carlos Zambrano in the series opener on Friday night. .... Cubs 1B-cleanup hitter Derrek Lee was a late scratch due to illness.