Building a winning streak right after busting out of a losing streak could be difficult for the Cubs, but manager Dale Sveum has kept his confidence in his team high.
"I can't be happier with the effort and the preparation, and even the attitude in the clubhouse has been tremendous," Sveum said before Monday's 11-7 win against the Padres. "You can't tell if we're losing 12 or winning 12 games in a row. The attitude, the bench, the preparation and busting their butts on the field. That's the last problem we have. They're doing a great job. I'm very impressed with that."
Before Monday's win, the Cubs had dropped 12 straight games for only the seventh time in club history. On Tuesday, the Cubs will send Jeff Samardzija to the hill in the second game of the series. The righty has been pretty good in the month of May. Despite his 2-2 record on the month, he's allowed just eight total runs in his five starts for a 2.18 ERA. But it's been a while since his last win, which came on May 7 against the Braves.
Opposing Samardzija will be Padres lefty Eric Stults. It'll be a return trip to Chicago, where Stults pitched earlier this season with the White Sox. He's made two starts for San Diego, picking up his first win of the season in his last outing against the Mets. He pitched five innings and allowed one unearned run on four hits and a walk.
There was a possibility that Stults wouldn't make the start after he was hit in the arm with a line drive on Thursday against the Mets.
"We were worried a couple of days ago," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He threw 20 or so pitches [Sunday] and felt fine. He's confident."
Padres: Quentin debuts
Outfielder Carlos Quentin made his Padres debut on Monday following a lengthy stay on the disabled list with a knee injury to open the season. The Padres signed Quentin in the offseason to patrol left field and, more importantly, swing the bat. His return is big for the offensively-struggling Padres.
"It doesn't matter if you're good or bad offensively, it's always good to get a guy back who has hit in the middle of the lineup like Carlos has," Padres catcher Nick Hundley said of Quentin. "We have high expectations for him."
Quentin went 1-for-4 with an RBI double, a walk and a run scored as the cleanup hitter in Monday's game against the Cubs.
Cubs: Marmol returns
The Cubs activated reliever Carlos Marmol off the disabled list ahead of Monday's game with San Diego. Fellow relief man Rafael Dolis was optioned back to Triple-A Iowa.
Marmol started the season as the team's closer before being removed from the role earlier this month. He's had a shaky season, posting a 6.35 ERA and walking 16 batters in 11 1/3 innings pitched.
Dolis also had his turn at the closer's role and didn't fare much better, blowing a pair of saves. He has three losses this month.
Shortstop Starlin Castro has homered in his last two games. It's only the second time he's hit a home run in consecutive games in his career. The last came on Aug. 7 and Aug. 9 of last year.
Infielder Adrian Cardenas has picked up four hits so far in his Major League career, and all four have been doubles. It's the first time a Cub has had all of his first four big league hits go for extra bases since pitcher Mark Prior did it in 2002.
Samardzija has only two career appearances against San Diego. Both have come in relief, totaling 2 1/3 innings. He's allowed three hits and four walks and struck out four batters.
Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson has picked up hits in both of his career at-bats against Stults.