Padres try for series split with Cubs

( - The San Diego Padres aim for a series split with the Chicago Cubs when the two ballclubs close out a four-game set at Petco Park.

The Padres evened this series with Friday's 11-1 rout of the Cubs, but dropped a 3-2 decision in the third portion of this set.

Chicago took a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning on Luis Valbuena's solo home run and an RBI single by Travis Wood. The Padres pulled within a run in the eighth thanks to pinch-hitter Carlos Quentin's two-run shot and couldn't muster a threat in the bottom of the ninth.

Billy Buckner made a spot-start for the Padres and was dealt the loss for giving up three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked four batters.

"I felt all right but toward the end of the game, I started missing over the plate," Buckner said. "I was a little anxious when I got out there but I was able to settle down some. I just stopped executing and I missed out over the plate."

San Diego, losers in five of six games, hopes to come out on top Sunday before starting a six-game road trip Monday against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox.

Before the Padres lost to the Cubs Saturday, they traded catcher Nick Hundley to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for relief pitcher Troy Patton. Hundley has spent his entire seven-year career in San Diego, compiling a .238 average with 47 home runs and 195 RBI. He set career highs in homers (13) and RBI (44) last season.

"He's not just one of my baseball buddies, but he's one of my best friends," Padres outfielder Will Venable said of Hundley.

Ian Kennedy has struggled to a 2-6 record in 10 starts this season (3.79 ERA) and gets the nod Sunday for the Friars. Kennedy is 0-3 in his last four starts and was touched for four runs in 6 2/3 innings of Tuesday's 5-3 loss to Minnesota.

Kennedy, who last won on April 27 at Washington, has allowed 13 runs during his winless streak and is 0-5 in six starts at Petco Park. The right-hander has made eight career starts against the Cubs, going 3-2 with a 6.33 ERA across 48 1/3 innings.

Chicago has been rolling of late with five wins in the last seven games and improved to 2-1 on a 10-game road trip behind a solid pitching performance from Travis Wood.

Wood limited the hosts to a pair of runs, scattered three hits and lasted 7 1/3 innings with three K's and two walks. Neil Ramirez got the final two outs in the eighth and Hector Rondon nailed down his sixth save in the ninth.

"I thought Wood did a great job," said Cubs manager Rick Renteria. "He attacks the strike zone. He keeps it low, but he can elevate when he has to."

Valbuena homered and scored twice, and Nate Schierholtz ended 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored for Chicago, which improved to 8-16 on the road and will start a three-game set Monday against the San Francisco Giants.

Aiming for his sixth win of the season Sunday will be Cubs starter Jason Hammel. Hammel is 5-2 with a 2.91 earned run average in nine starts and is coming off a 6-1 win over the New York Yankees in which he delivered 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

Hammel, who was 0-1 in his previous three appearances, has a 4-2 mark and a 5.03 ERA in 12 lifetime games (11 starts) against the Padres. The right-hander has lasted at least five innings in every start this season.

The Padres took four of seven last season versus the Cubs, winning two of three at home.