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Cubs blank Padres 6-0 in series opener at Wrigley Field

Padres Cubs Baseball xander bogaerts
Posted at 7:37 AM, Apr 26, 2023

CHICAGO (AP) — A cold, windy night at Wrigley Field was no big deal for Justin Steele.

“I wouldn't say I really paid much attention to it,” he said.

It was business as usual for the left-hander.

Steele pitched three-hit ball into the sixth inning in his fourth straight win, and the Chicago Cubs beat the San Diego Padres 6-0 on Tuesday.

Yan Gomes had four of Chicago’s seven hits, including a two-run drive off Blake Snell in the second. The veteran catcher is batting .441 (15 for 34) with four homers and nine RBIs in his last eight games.

“What a great game for him,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Quality at-bats, what he does behind the plate, his leadership, his game-calling skills, how he handles the staff; the way those guys believe in him and trust in him is a big part that I think goes unnoticed.”

Not by the pitchers on Ross' staff, like the emerging Steele.

“I mean Yan's awesome,” he said. “Just such a great leader.”

The game-time temperature was 41 degrees, and the wind made life difficult on a handful of plays throughout the game. But nothing seems to faze Steele these days.

The 27-year-old Mississippi native struck out five and walked two in 5 1/3 innings. San Diego had at least one baserunner in four of the first five innings, but it came up empty each time.

Steele (4-0) improved to 5-1 with a 1.07 ERA in his last 12 starts dating to July 22. He pitched at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs in each of his first four outings this year.

“I've just been trying my hardest to remain consistent in everything that I'm doing,” he said. “Going out there and giving the team a good chance to win each time out, for me, that's my goal.”

The Cubs broke it open with four runs in the eighth. Gomes hit an RBI single and scored on Nico Hoerner's three-run triple.

Snell (0-4) allowed four hits, struck out five and walked five in his third straight loss. The veteran lefty has 18 walks in 23 innings on the season.

“The five walks are what got him out of the game after five innings,” San Diego manager Bob Melvin said. “He had to throw over 100 pitches to do it. So at times needs to locate a little better.”

San Diego, which had won four of five, finished with five hits. It went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base.

After Steele retired Juan Soto for the first out of the sixth, Adbert Alzolay, Mark Leiter Jr., Keegan Thompson and Michael Rucker combined for 3 2/3 innings of two-hit ball.

Chicago has five shutouts through 22 games for the first time since 1969, matching a modern franchise record.

“We have a great team here,” Gomes said.

Thompson issued consecutive two-out walks to Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts in the eighth. But Jake Cronenworth flied out to right, ending the inning.

“In a game like that, when it's 2-0 basically the entire way, it's lack of big hits," Melvin said.