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Jackson, Cubs can't slow down Padres

San Diego erupts for nine runs in sixth; righty exits with cramp in hand

CHICAGO -- Cubs reliever Wesley Wright received a huge cheer from the crowd of 31,321 when he recorded the first out of the sixth inning Thursday. But by that point, the Padres had batted around in the inning.

Rene Rivera drove in three runs, including a two-run single in the nine-run sixth, to back Tyson Ross and lift the Padres to a 13-3 victory over the Cubs to take the series. It's Chicago's worst home loss in franchise history against San Diego.

The Padres began the night ranked last in the National League in offense, yet sent 15 batters to the plate in an inning that never seemed to end.

"It's one of those games where you have to give the guys on the other side a lot of credit to put together that type of inning and get single after single and keep the line moving -- it's something you don't see that often," Wright said. "It's one of those nights when you hope you can limit the damage, and we weren't able to do that tonight."

The Padres didn't need an extra-base hit in the sixth, scoring on two-run singles by Rivera, Alexi Amarista and Chris Nelson, and taking advantage of an error by third baseman Luis Valbuena.

Starter Edwin Jackson walked Yasmani Grandal to begin the sixth, then served up a single to Will Venable before leaving the game because of cramping in his right hand. Jackson also had served up a home run to Rivera leading off the fifth.

"The 3-1 pitch [to Rivera] was the worst pitch of the night," Jackson said. "Other than that, I was still feeling pretty good. Then all of a sudden, you go and can't throw a fastball for a strike because your fingers are cramping.

"I would've rather stayed out there and battled than have the bullpen come in," he said. "They've been having a tough run. It's frustrating to go from feeling pretty good and feeling like you could go deep in a game to where you can't throw a ball for a strike."

When Wright struck out Grandal for the first out -- in his second at-bat of the inning -- it prompted a sarcastic cheer.

"The bullpen is such a roller coaster ride, you try to ride the good stretches as long as you can," Wright said. "I think for the most part we did that. Coming out of the break, we've gotten off to a slow start. All it takes is a couple of us finding that groove.

"It's one of those things -- everything that's hit is finding holes," Wright said. "We just have to clean it up a little bit."

The 13 runs were a season-high for the Padres -- the previous high was 11 on May 23 in San Diego against Chicago. Jackson started that game, also, and gave up eight runs over four innings.

The eight hits and nine runs in the San Diego sixth were the most against the Cubs in a single inning since the Brewers racked up the same number of hits and runs in the ninth in a 15-4 win on Aug. 27, 2012.

"As far as I'm concerned, that's not typical of our bullpen because our bullpen has been very, very good," Renteria said.

But it's been a struggle in the second half. In six games since the All-Star break, Cubs pitchers have given up 32 earned runs on 57 hits and 27 walks over 51 innings for a 5.65 ERA. They had a 3.85 ERA in the first half. They've gotten just two quality starts in the half dozen games, too, and the only win was by rookie Kyle Hendricks on Tuesday in his second big league start.

The Cubs are counting on Jackson and Travis Wood to step up following the July 4 trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics. Jackson dropped his fourth straight decision, and ranks among the National League leaders in losses. He's now 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA in five July starts.

There were reports Thursday that the Cubs were trying to trade Jackson, who has two more years left on his four-year, $52 million contract. He just shrugged off the rumors.

"I've been traded after All-Star years, I've been traded after sub-par seasons, I've been traded after bad seasons, I've been traded in the middle of a season," Jackson said. "At the end of the day, you play and work to where you are right then. At the present time, I'm right here with Chicago and that's what I'm focusing on and not looking too far down the road."

Renteria is trying to get the team back on track. The Cubs are 3-13 since the July 4 trade.

"We've got two months left and this is, quite frankly, when we can learn a lot about ourselves," manager Rick Renteria said.

The focus has to be on the current roster, not the guys who are gone, Jackson said.

"At the end of the day, we all have a job to do," he said. "It's a tough loss for the team -- those two guys were pitching real well. ... We can't let two guys who we lose dictate our season. We still have to play baseball games, we still have to finish the rest of the season whether those guys are here or not."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.
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