SAN DIEGO (AP) — Starlin Castro and Matt Garza have been bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the Chicago Cubs.
Castro had two singles to extend his NL-leading total to 206 hits and Garza won his 10th game as the Cubs beat the San Diego Padres 6-2 on Tuesday night in a matchup of 90-game losers. Alfonso Soriano hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning.
Castro has 12 more hits than Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers. On Wednesday, Castro will become the youngest player ever to lead the NL in hits in a season, at 21 years, 188 days. He’ll also become the third Cubs player in seven seasons to lead the NL in hits, joining Juan Pierre (2006) and Derrek Lee (2005).
Castro reached base for the 39th straight game, extending his career-high streak.
Garza, obtained in an offseason trade with Tampa Bay, finished 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA. He had been sick on Monday night and the Cubs sent him back to the hotel.
“Come hell or high water he was going to pitch,” manager Mike Quade said. “It was an excellent effort.”
Soriano homered off the base of the batter’s eye in straightaway center field against Chad Qualls (6-8), giving the Cubs a 4-2 lead. Aramis Ramirez, who homered in the fourth, reached on a leadoff walk before being replaced by Tony Campana, and Bryan LaHair walked with one out ahead of Soriano’s 26th homer.
“A normal human being would have hit that on the ground,” Qualls said. “Soriano hits it 420 feet.”
Garza tied his career high with his fourth straight win. He allowed two runs and five hits, struck out eight and walked two in seven innings.
“It is what it is. I had a chance at the end,” Garza said. “I’m happy the way it ended. I’m not happy we’re not playing in October, but I’m just going to take what I did and let it keep rolling into the offseason and get ready for next season.”
The loss clinched last place in the NL West for the Padres (70-91). They won 90 games in 2010, but took a face-plant this season after trading All-Star slugger Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox in December.
Ramirez hit a drive to straightaway center leading off the fourth against rookie Anthony Bass, his 26th.
Chicago’s Blake DeWitt added a pinch-hit, two-run single in the ninth.
San Diego’s Kyle Blanks hit a two-run double in the second.
Bass, who started the season in Double-A, held the Cubs to one run and five hits in five innings.
“For the most part I was pleased,” Bass said. “I made a couple of mistakes that they hit hard.”
NOTES: Castro extended his hitting streak to 10 games, his fifth double-digit streak of the season. … The season ends Wednesday night when Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster (10-13, 4.53 ERA) faces LHP Wade LeBlanc (4-6, 4.83). Dempster is 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 36 strikeouts in his last four starts against San Diego. LeBlanc will be facing the Cubs for the first time. In a 2-0 win at Colorado in his last start, LeBlanc struck out a career-high 10, the most strikeouts by a Padres pitcher this season.
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