SAN DIEGO -- Austin Hedges homered and knocked in four runs Tuesday night, sending the Padres to a 6-2 victory and pushing the Cubs below .500 for just the second time this season.Hedges has long been lauded for his defensive potential, but the Padres' backstop has spent the first two
SAN DIEGO -- Austin Hedges homered and knocked in four runs Tuesday night, sending the Padres to a 6-2 victory and pushing the Cubs below .500 for just the second time this season.
Hedges has long been lauded for his defensive potential, but the Padres' backstop has spent the first two months reminding the baseball world that he can hit, too. Hedges launched his ninth homer of the season in the second inning, a low-trajectory two-run missile that left his bat at 108 mph to put San Diego ahead, 2-1.
"I hadn't hit one like that in a while," said Hedges, who would tack on a two-run double in the fifth. "I knew I hit it pretty good, but I didn't know if it was going to get out."
Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber homered in the top half of the fifth to snap an 0-for-13 drought and tie the game at 2, but the Padres wasted little time reclaiming the lead. Chicago right-hander Eddie Butler came undone in the bottom half of the frame when he let four straight San Diego batters reach base after recording the first out. All four would score, and Butler exited having allowed six runs on seven hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings.
• Maddon not losing faith in Schwarber
"We got the lead and gave it right back," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We gave up the lead, and that was very large because they did pitch well again, and we're not hitting like we can, so it's a bad combination."
The fifth-inning rally made a winner out of Padres No. 10 prospectDinelson Lamet, who was sharp in his Petco Park debut. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed two runs over five innings while striking out eight for the second start in a row. With 16 whiffs, Lamet tied Bob Shirley for the most by a Padres pitcher in the first two outings of his career.
"His stuff is good enough to win in the strike zone, so we ask him to attack the plate," said Padres manager Andy Green. "The changeup's real and the slider is real. Those are real weapons. That's three above-average Major League pitches, and that's a really exciting thing to see out of a young guy."
• Lamet's recipe for success? Strike one
The Cubs now have lost five in a row, and they dropped below .500 this late in the season for the first time since finishing the 2014 season at 73-89.
"As bad as it's going, we're a game and a half, two games away from being in first place in our division," Chicago's Anthony Rizzo said. "As dark as it is now for us, there's light."
• Epstein: 'We feel we have a talented offense'
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hunting for the lead:Hunter Renfroe has officially announced his National League Rookie of the Year Award candidacy with a brilliant month of May. The Padres' right fielder, who struggled in April, gave San Diego a 4-2 lead with a grand slam on Monday. He gave the Padres the same advantage on Tuesday, this time with two-run double to the left-field corner in the fifth against Butler.
"I had a guy on third base, less than two outs," said Renfroe, who has an .882 OPS this month. "I'm just trying to hit it to the outfield or get a fly ball, make sure I got under it enough to get it to the outfield. I got the job done."
Escape act: Lamet found himself in serious trouble in the third inning, putting two men aboard with one out. But he whiffed Kristopher Bryant and got Rizzo to pop to second, ending the threat. Once again, Chicago struggled with men in scoring position -- an all-too-common occurrence of late for the North Siders. They went 1-for-7 in such situations, and the lone hit -- a Willson Contreras chopper that was mishandled by Cory Spangenberg and ruled a double -- could have just as easily been an error.
"It's been a very non-productive offensive trip," Maddon said.
"We've been punched in the teeth the last two nights. To say everything's peachy, that's not it." -- Rizzo
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his walk in the third inning, Chicago's Benjamin Zobrist has reached base safely in 25 straight games. It's his longest streak since a career-high 31 game stretch in 2009-10.
Jonathan Jay's leadoff single in the eighth was the only hit the Cubs mustered against the San Diego 'pen. In nine innings this series, Padres relievers have allowed one hit, while striking out nine.
Cubs:Jacob Arrieta opened the Cubs' West Coast trip last Friday against the Dodgers, and he will try to close the trip with a win on Wednesday. The problem this season has been too many home runs -- he's already matched his entire total from 2015 (10). Ian Happ may return to the lineup. First pitch will be 2:40 p.m. CT.
Padres:Luis Perdomo grinded through six quality innings in Washington without his best stuff on Friday night. He starts Wednesday in the series finale vs. the Cubs with first pitch slated for 12:40 p.m. PT.
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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.