The Chicago Cubs are trying to get out of the NL Central basement as fast as they can and shoot for a series win Thursday afternoon in the finale of a four-game set versus the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs are three games behind Cincinnati for the fourth spot in the division and have been playing well lately with five wins in the previous seven games. They took a 2-1 series lead over the Padres with Wednesday's 6-2 triumph, as starting pitcher Scott Feldman went the distance and allowed two runs and three hits.
Feldman was fortunate that the offense continued to click in the first complete game of his career. The 12 K's were also a career best.
"It's something I've been wanting to do for a while," Feldman said of his start. "It always seemed like my pitch count got up or I got taken out before that could happen. I think originally the plan was for me to throw eight. I went back and asked skip if I could get a crack at a (complete game)."
He did allow two home runs and pushed his mark to 2-3.
Dioner Navarro drove in two runs, while Feldman, Starlin Castro, Nate Schierholtz and Luis Valbuena were each credited with an RBI for the Cubs, who have scored at least five runs in every game this series. The Cubs still have Cincinnati, Texas and St. Louis passing through Wrigley Field.
Travis Wood draws the start for Chicago and is 2-1 with a 2.25 earned run average in five starts this season. He has proven his durability so far by pitching at least six innings in every start and got the win in Saturday's 3-2 decision at Miami. He held the Marlins to two runs and three hits in six innings and struck out five.
Wood has been reached for two runs in four straight trips to the hill and is 0-1 with a 4.21 ERA in five career meetings (4 starts) with San Diego.
San Diego entered Wednesday's game having won five of six games, but starter Andrew Cashner was tagged for five runs -- four earned -- and six hits in four innings. The former Cub also walked four and fanned only one batter.
"Cash just wasn't on tonight. He couldn't get any momentum started," Padres manager Bud Black said. "There was no consistency there. He could never get in a groove."
Chase Headley and Jedd Gyorko both homered for the Padres. Headley is batting .400 with 10 hits, two homers and three RBI in his last six games. He's also nearing a contract extension with the club.
"We want him here. ... It's a priority to keep him here," Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler said on the club's website.
The Padres will return home tonight for a six-game stand versus Arizona and Miami at Petco Park.
Eric Stults has the duty of trying to cool off Chicago's bats when he takes the hill for San Diego Thursday. Stults is 0-1 in his last two starts and has given up 10 runs in that span. He recently took center stage in Saturday's 8-7 win over San Francisco and did not record a decision. He did, however, allow five runs in a season low four innings.
Stults is 2-2 with a 5.67 earned run average in five starts and hasn't fared too well in his career against the Cubs. The left-hander is 1-3 with a 5.21 ERA in this series.
Chicago and San Diego split six matchups a season ago and both teams posted three-game sweeps as the host. The Cubs and Padres also split six meetings in 2011.