Pomeranz leads Padres to DH sweep of Cubs

May 11th, 2016

CHICAGO -- The Padres got all the offense they needed with one swing. Christian Bethancourt belted a home run to back Drew Pomeranz and lift San Diego to a 1-0 victory over Chicago in the second game of a split doubleheader on Wednesday night, handing the Cubs consecutive losses for the first time all season.

This was the deepest the Cubs had gone into a season without losing back-to-back games since 1907. That team did not lose consecutive contests until the 34th and 35th games, May 26-27. Wednesday's second game was No. 33 this season for the Cubs.

"We don't like it, but it's probably inevitable during the course of a baseball season that you may lose two games in a row," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It's unfortunate it happened on the same day."

Chicago starter John Lackey -- who has settled in at Wrigley Field, compiling a 2.12 ERA in four starts there -- retired the first 14 batters he faced, and Bethancourt then launched the right-hander's 69th pitch over the left-field bleachers onto Waveland Avenue for the Padres' first hit and lead.

"He's got as much power, if you just watch batting practice, as anyone on our team," said Padres manager Andy Green. "The ball comes off his bat in a way that it does for very few guys in Major League Baseball. What it comes down to with him is swinging at the right pitches consistently. When he does that, he's gonna put a charge into them."

Pomeranz tied a career high with 10 strikeouts to complete the Padres' first doubleheader sweep since 2004 in Pittsburgh. San Diego won the first game, 7-4, snapping the Cubs' eight-game win streak.


No doubt about it: Bethancourt turned around a Lackey curveball and crushed it, with Statcast™ projecting the blast at 445 feet and with an exit velocity of 109 mph. It was the second big fly in as many starts for the Padres' backup catcher. Bethancourt would finish 2-for-3, while catching the second shutout of his career -- a feat he says he's always chasing.

"I was just living the moment," Bethancourt said. "Drew was outstanding. He was so nice to catch and to work with him, and I got a couple good at-bats."

Said Green: "Bethancourt was unbelievable today behind the dish. Best I've seen him block, called a great game, and obviously, hit a ball out of the stadium. So that's not a bad day for the kid."

No magic: The Cubs loaded the bases in the eighth, taking advantage of a miscue by Padres shortstop Alexei Ramirez. With two outs, Jason Heyward walked and Kris Bryant then hit a popup that Ramirez camped under. As Heyward ran past Ramirez, the shortstop dropped the ball for an error, and the Cubs had runners at the corners. Anthony Rizzo walked to load the bases for Jorge Soler, but Brad Hand struck him out to end the threat.

"That's what a good team does," Hand said. "If somebody makes a mistake or an error, we've just got to have each other's back and do whatever we can to help each other out. I know if I make a bad pitch, Alexei will make a great play next time."

Maddon said he never considered using a pinch-hitter for Soler, who is batting .175. "You don't do that," Maddon said. "This is a guy who is a big part of our future. He could've just as easily hit the ball over the wall, get a knock. There's really no thought of [lifting him]."

Double arrows: Padres closer Fernando Rodney recorded saves in both games of Wednesday's doubleheader -- marking the first time in his 14-year career that he's done so. In the nightcap, Rodney surrendered a leadoff single to Javier Baez, but retired the next three hitters, getting Ben Zobrist to bounce back to the mound to end the game. It marked the seventh scoreless inning for the Padres' relief corps over the course of the two games.

"I don't think anybody could keep Fernando Rodney out of the game," Green said. "He was ready to get the save. I think he threw only eight pitches in the first game, so we were thrilled with his pitch efficiency and felt comfortable going back to him."


The Cubs were swept in a doubleheader at home for the first time since June 28, 2014, when the Nationals did so.


"I got a long memory... He'll learn." -- Lackey on how Bethancourt -- whom the veteran hurler had never faced -- watched his home run.


Padres: During his 11-year career, James Shields has faced 29 different opponents. He'll make it a full 30 on Thursday when he toes the slab in Milwaukee to face the Brewers for the first time. For the most part, Shields has been sharp this season, but he's gotten little run support. First pitch is slated for 5:10 p.m. PT.

Cubs: After an off-day Thursday, the Cubs play host to the PIrates at Wrigley Field in a three-game series, starting Friday. Jason Hammel opens the series. He got the win against the Pirates on May 2, giving up two runs over five innings. First pitch will be 1:20 p.m. CT.

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