SAN DIEGO – Winning a series doesn’t seem like a big thing. Unless you’re the Cubs.
The Cubs were 12 outs shy of claiming their first series since Sept. 9-11 in Cincinnati. They couldn’t hold on as San Diego rallied for the 4-3 victory Sunday, sending Chicago to San Francisco still seeking that elusive series win.
“Would we have wanted to take the series? Absolutely,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “Are we disappointed? For sure. But we didn’t get it done. It was 1-0 going into the sixth and then the wheels fell off a little bit.”
The Padres’ Ian Kennedy (3-6) was anything but wobbly in pitching six strong innings, allowing one run and two hits with six strikeouts. Huston Street got his 14th save in as many chances, although he gave up a two-run homer to Starlin Castro in the ninth inning.
But the Cubs’ Jason Hammel (5-3) matched Kennedy until the sixth.
“I felt in complete command,” said Hammel, who went 52/3 innings, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks, with five strikeouts. “I felt like I was going to go complete game shutout. Everything was working.”
Then the Padres showed life and Hammel wilted.
“I think there was a little bit of fatigue there where I just lost the feel,’” he said. “It was a tight game there where runs were important. That one is on me.”
The Padres went ahead 2-1 in the sixth inning on Carlos Quentin’s pinch-hit single off reliever James Russell, after Chase Headley’s sacrifice fly tied the game. Two walks by Hammel helped extend the inning.
Jedd Gyorko’s double drove in Seth Smith and Tyson Ross, who was running for Quentin, for a 4-1 lead. Emilio Bonifacio misplayed Gyorko’s ball in center, allowing Ross to score.
A sixth-inning home run by Junior Lake gave the Cubs a brief lead although it took a little while for him to celebrate. Lake’s arching drive off a curveball took Smith to the left-field wall, where it appeared that Smith snatched the ball before it reached the seats. Lake showed disgust in thinking he had just missed breaking the scoreless tie and he nearly veered off the base paths.
But second base umpire Greg Gibson gave the home run signal and Lake resumed his trot at third base.
Hammel retired 11 straight before Yonder Alonso lined a single to right in the fifth inning, the Padres’ first hit.
The Cubs, who had four hits, didn’t have much luck against Kennedy early. Castro got into scoring position in the second inning after a leadoff single and walk to Luis Valbuena. But Kennedy got the next three batters.
The Cubs’ only other baserunner before Lake’s home run was a one-out walk to him in the third inning.