Tatis plays hero and villain, bullpen strong as Padres beat Cubs 5-3

Apr 26, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; San Diego Padres right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. (23) hits a two RBI single against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 26, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; San Diego Padres first baseman Jake Cronenworth (9) hits an RBI triple against the Chicago Cubs during the fourth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Wrigley Field- Chicago, IL 

In what has become an unfortunate trend with the 2023 Padres so far, the squad was looking to put being shut out the night before in the rearview mirror.

The Padres looked to Michael Wacha on the mound opposite the Cubs’ Drew Smyly, who was fresh off of a strong effort towards a perfect game his last time out.

With a few key hits in big situations, the Padres won 5-3. The bullpen shut it down after the offense took the lead. Fernando Tatis Jr. played the hero for the Padres, much to the chagrin of the fans at Wrigley Field.

The first three innings were relatively uneventful, with each starting pitcher trading scoreless frames. After two outs to start the top of the fourth, Xander Bogaerts and Nelson Cruz strung together back-to-back singles. Jake Cronenworth then lined a ball down the right field line, scoring two with his second triple of the season.

The Friars threatened further when Ha-Seong Kim reached base and stole second before Austin Nola ended the rally with a groundout.

The Cubs immediately responded in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run shot by Trey Mancini, which also materialized with two outs. That tied the game at two.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Cubs got to Wacha again with an RBI single by Nico Hoerner, giving Chicago a 3-2 lead. Wacha limited the damage and got through the fifth inning, which is where his night ended. In five innings, Wacha allowed three runs on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Overall, it was a respectable night for a pitcher toward the back end of the starting rotation.

San Diego’s bats still had work to do, trailing 3-2 heading into the seventh. The first two batters reached base safely ahead of a successful sacrifice bunt by Jose Azocar. That set the table for some heroics by the newly returned star, Fernando Tatis Jr.

Tatis lined a two-run single through the left side, giving the Padres the lead once again at 4-3. It was Tatis’ best moment since his return from suspension. That must have been extra sweet for him since he has been the subject of heckling in the outfield by fans at Wrigley Field.

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Tatis wasn’t done. In the top of the ninth, the Padres desperately needed an insurance run. Clinging to a one-run lead, Kim reached second after singling and stealing his second base of the game. Tatis lined a ball into center field, which dropped for an RBI single. That pushed the lead to 5-3 and gave Josh Hader some breathing room for the bottom of the ninth.

It wasn’t like Hader needed it, as he disposed of the Cubs with a scoreless ninth, despite some traffic on the bases. Hader earned his ninth save of the season, and the Padres once again got back to .500.

Nick Martinez and Hader combined for four scoreless innings after Wacha departed.

Now, they look to take the series win on Thursday afternoon and also get above .500. They look to Seth Lugo to get the job done, with first pitch at 11:20 am PDT.

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