Grand slam lifts Padres to victory over Cubs
The San Diego Padres had eight hits on the day, but one of them in particular made for plenty of elation at Petco Park. Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Grand slam lifts Padres to victory over Cubs

by - Senior Writer -

SAN DIEGO -- With one swing of the bat, right fielder Hunter Renfroe essentially won the game for his San Diego Padres in the bottom of the fourth inning on Memorial Day. Hitting the first grand slam of the season for the Padres and the second grand slam of his career, Renfroe put San Diego ahead of the Chicago Cubs 4-2, a lead that was never relinquished. Winning 5-2 in the first game of a three-game series with the Cubs, the Padres limited Chicago to three hits en route to riding Renfroe's homer to victory.

The Cubs got off to a promising start, with right fielder Jason Heyward hitting a two-run single in the opening inning to put the Cubs up 2-0. The inning began with Padres starter Jarred Cosart walking the leadoff batter, but two outs soon followed. While the Cubs technically produced a two-out rally thereafter, Chicago actually benefited more so from Cosart's self-inflicted wounds than from its own offensive success. With two outs, Cosart hit a batter and walked the next to load the bases. Heyward then came through with his first of two hits on the day.

Chicago had an opportunity to extend its lead in the top of the second after shortstop Addison Russell tripled to deep right to begin the inning. However, the Cubs, who held an MLB-worst .217 batting average with runners in scoring position entering today's game, failed to score him. Cosart even walked a pair of Chicago batters over the course of the inning to load the bases, but Chicago left all three runners stranded.

Unlike Cosart, Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks was on fire to begin the game, sitting the first 10 San Diego batters. However, two consecutive one-out singles seemed to rattle Hendricks, who proceeded to hit a batter and give up the Renfroe grand slam in short order. Renfroe, a second-year player out of Mississippi State, now boasts 10 home runs and 24 RBI on the season.

Padres manager Andy Green made the wise decision to pull the plug on Cosart's start before it got out of hand, but Cubs skipper Joe Maddon opted to leave Hendricks in the game after he was victimized on the demoralizing grand slam. That decision resulted in San Diego adding another run to its total, as the Padres collected three consecutive one-out singles in the fifth that first baseman Wil Myers capitalized off of by hitting an RBI groundout to place the Padres ahead by a score of 5-2.

Hendricks was able to successfully pick off Myers at first base to end the fifth inning, and that marked the end to his frustrating start. Despite appearing to be on the money in the early innings, Hendricks came undone in the fourth inning, and it ultimately cost the Cubs the game. Hendricks finished with six hits, five runs and five strikeouts to his name, receiving the loss to drop to 4-3 overall.

The Cubs wasted a golden opportunity to cut into the Padres' lead in the seventh. Padres reliever Ryan Buchter walked three of the four batters whom he faced before being yanked with one out and the bases juiced. Interestingly enough, while Buchter was replaced by Brad Hand on the mound, Matt Szczur was also entered into the game for the Padres, manning center field. Earlier this month, Szczur, a solid utility player while in Chicago, was designated for assignment by the Cubs, leading to him being traded to the Padres.

As for Hand, he handed the Cubs a devastating blow by forcing Heyward to hit into an inning-ending grounder to second. A 4-6-3 double play, the groundout served as yet another example of the Chicago batters' season-long struggles with runners in scoring position. The Padres held their ground thereafter, claiming the 5-2 victory in which Renfroe's round-tripper, which was his only hit of the game, made all the difference. With that home run given up by Hendricks, the Cubs' starting pitchers have now given up 40 home runs this season, which is a jarring statistic for the North Siders, to say the least.

San Diego relief pitcher Jose Torres (3-2) earned the win for today's game, while Buchter (8) and Hand (6) were each credited with holds. Padres closer Brandon Maurer was granted the save, his seventh of the season. The Cubs (25-25) will look to rebound after dropping four straight when they take on the Padres (20-33) tomorrow night in the second matchup of the three-game affair at Petco Park. The opening pitch is slated for 7:10 PM PST in a battle on the hill between two youngsters, as 26-year-old Eddie Butler of Chicago is set to square off against 24-year-old Dinelson Lamet of San Diego.

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