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Cubs have to settle for series split with Padres

Hammel charged with three runs in four-run sixth inning

SAN DIEGO -- The Cubs made it interesting Sunday afternoon.

Down by three runs entering the top of the ninth, the Cubs immediately pulled to within a run when Starlin Castro followed a walk drawn by Anthony Rizzo with a 418-foot homer off Padres closer Huston Street.

But Street retired the next three hitters he faced as the Padres scored a 4-3 victory to gain a split of the four-game series and continue the Cubs' woes away from Petco Park.

Although the split was seen as a step forward, the Cubs were unable, for a 12th straight time -- dating back to last September -- to win a series on the road. The Cubs are 8-17 on the road this season four games into a 10-game trip that continues Monday in San Francisco.

"Did we want to take the series? Absolutely," said Cubs manager Rick Renteria, who was the Padres bench coach the past three seasons. "But we knew it was going to be difficult. We're seeing some good things."

The Cubs were leading 1-0 Sunday on a sixth-inning homer by Junior Lake when the Padres scored four times in the bottom of the sixth against Cubs starter Jason Hammel and two relievers.

Hammel didn't allow a hit through the first four innings and was working on a two-hit shutout entering the sixth when the game turned on him.

"Everything was working," Hammel said of the first five innings. "I was going for a complete game shutout. I was pretty much in complete command."

Then Hammel said he began to feel the residual effects of being hit in his pitching hand by a one-hopper back to the mound by the first hitter he faced in his previous start against the Yankees.

"I felt some fatigue in the hand," he said. "I couldn't get the best feeling. It affected my command. I had a long fifth. After that, I hit a wall."

After giving up a leadoff single in the sixth, he walked two of the next three hitters he faced to load the bases. Chase Headley tied the game with a one-out sacrifice fly to right as the last hitter faced by Hammel.

Pinch-hitter Carlos Quentin, who has missed a week of starts due to groin injury, then drove home the go-ahead run with a single to left off left-handed reliever James Russell.

Quentin, who had homered in his two previous pinch-hitting appearances this week (including Saturday night against the Cubs) came out of the game for pinch-runner Tyson Ross, who would be involved in the decisive play of the game.

Jedd Gyorko greeted right-handed reliever Brian Schlitter with a double to right-center.

Seth Smith scored easily on the play. But Ross was slowing going into third when Cubs center fielder Emilio Bonifacio twice bobbled the ball allowing Ross to score what proved to be the winning run.

The homers by Lake and Castro represented two of the four hits the Cubs had Sunday against Ian Kennedy and three relievers. The other two hits resulted in the Cubs having runners in scoring position and no one out.

The Cubs scored neither time.

Castro singled leading off the season ahead of a walk dawn by Luis Valbuena. Kennedy struck out Mike Olt, retired Nate Schierholtz on a fly to left and got John Baker to line out to short to end the threat.

Baker led off the eighth with a double off right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit, who retired the next three Cubs on two flyouts before striking out Lake.

The Cubs are hitting .202 with runners in scoring position this season.

"I was trying to keep them off balance," said Kennedy. "But early on, I was just missing off the plate. After that, I started getting a feel for my changeup."

Bill Center is a contributor to
Read More: Chicago Cubs, Starlin Castro, Junior Lake, Jason Hammel