Scuffling Padres face Cubs' Hendricks in finale

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

(AP) -- As Kyle Hendricks looks to continue his progression from a bout of right shoulder inflammation, he has the ideal team awaiting him in a series finale at Wrigley Field on Sunday.

Hendricks will face a San Diego Padres team on a much cooler afternoon after a scorching Chicago weekend, looking to raise the heat on his team's hot start to the second half.

After Saturday's victory over the Padres, the Cubs are 7-1 since the second half began and are poised for a sweep against a Padres team has been exactly opposite. San Diego is 1-7 in the second half, essentially frittering away any momentum that figured to come from three consecutive victories over the Los Angeles Dodgers when the first half ended.

Hendricks (7-7, 3.46 ERA) is 0-2 since returning from the injured list on July 2, but he has not given up more than two runs in any of his three starts since then and has raised his pitch count in each outing. After throwing 94 pitches in a no-decision against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, the right-hander should be pitch-count free.

He gave up home runs to both Yasiel Puig and Eugenio Suarez in that meeting against the Reds, but said afterward he was closer to feeling like his usual self.

"It comes down to keeping the same focus and making good pitches," Hendricks said, according to MLB.com. "I just made two pitches I didn't get away with."

That game against the Reds is the only one the Cubs have lost in the second half. And if history is any indicator, the odds say the Cubs' chances at continuing their second-half success is strong.

Hendricks is 5-1 with a 3.04 ERA in eight career starts against the Padres. In four career starts against the National League West foe at Wrigley Field, he is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA.

The Padres will counter Sunday with right-hander Cal Quantrill (2-2, 4.21), who will follow opener Adrian Morejon, who will make his major league debut. Quantrill will be making his 13th career appearance, his first at Wrigley Field, and his ninth career start.

Moved from the bullpen back into the Padres' rotation on July 3, the 24-year old Quantrill is coming off his best start of the season, when he delivered six scoreless innings on three hits against the Atlanta Braves last Sunday. But the Braves went to work on the San Diego bullpen to earn a 4-1 victory.

That loss came a day after dependable All-Star closer Kirby Yates coughed up the lead in a loss, showing that nothing is quite right for the Padres since the second half began. On Saturday, San Diego had a lead in the fourth inning before Javier Baez hit a three-run home run off left-hander Joey Lucchesi.

Mostly, it has been a bevy of errors that have been costly to the Padres since the second half started. Rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. has six of them, including four in his last three games.

"I think a couple of young guys playing really fast, trying to do special things, and sometimes those plays just aren't there," Padres manager Andy Green said, according to MLB.com. "If you're going to make mistakes in the field, mistakes of aggression are the better kind of mistakes. I think (they) are going to continue to learn and continue to grow."

--Field Level Media

Updated July 21, 2019