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Richard tosses seven innings of one-run ball

Having the reeling Cubs on the ropes, the Padres have the chance on Wednesday to return the favor from the Cubs' three-game sweep at Wrigley Field in May.

Tuesday's 7-4 Padres win gives them the chance to finish off their third sweep of the season, and their first at home. The Cubs are in desperate need of a win, having dropped seven straight games sine the July 31 Trade Deadline.

The Cubs will have to go through Padres starter Clayton Richard, who limited the Mets to one run in seven innings in his last start despite allowing eight hits. He bested R.A. Dickey for his 13th quality start of the season.

"It's a great sign. We've seen him better and he goes seven-plus and gives up one run," Padres manager Bud Black said. "That's where he is right now in his game. We expect those type of outings from Clayton. He got his ground balls. ... He held them at bay."

Jeff Samardzija takes the mound for the Cubs after giving up five runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Dodgers in his last start, struggling with the command of his splitter. The game came after a July in which he had a 1.91 ERA in five games.

"The split was just up today and wasn't very consistent," Samardzija said. "When you've got to get those punchouts, the splitter is a big pitch. It made me work a little harder."

The Cubs' slide comes after their midseason fire sale that saw the departure of Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson and Geovany Soto, all within 24 hours at the Trade Deadline.

"You still need to come out and play every day," Samardzija said. "I can only speak for myself. I've got to get that ball down in the zone and get some clutch outs when you need them to keep your team in the game. You can sit and make all the excuses you want, but those guys aren't coming back and you've got to figure out a way around it and what you can do to make it work."

Adding intrigue to the matchup is the two starting pitchers' respective football histories. Samardzija was an All-American wide receiver at Notre Dame, while Richard was a quarterback at the University of Michigan.

Padres: Several strong options in bullpen
The Padres' bullpen gave up two runs in Tuesday's game, but a handful of relievers have emerged as dependable options to get the ball to All-Star closer Huston Street.

Brad Brach got Starlin Castro to strike out to end the top of the seventh on Tuesday, and Luke Gregerson turned in a perfect eighth to run his scoreless-innings streak to 15 1/3, setting up Street's 20th save in 20 chances this season.

Cubs: Soriano day to day with swollen hand
Alfonso Soriano was out of the lineup in Tuesday's game after injuring his hand while sliding into second base during Monday's game. Manager Dale Sveum said before Tuesday's game that Soriano tried to swing a bat and wasn't able to.

"I don't feel comfortable holding the bat," Soriano said.

• Lefty Brooks Raley, who allowed seven runs in four innings in his Major League debut on Tuesday, is expected to remain in the rotation. He takes the spot of Matt Garza, who was placed on the disabled list with a right elbow stress reaction.

"He's a guy who can do things with a baseball with command and a four-pitch guy who you have to give a look at for the last seven weeks of the season," Sveum said of Raley.

Worth noting
• The Padres have won nine of their last 11 games at Petco Park, while the Cubs have a 16-41 home record.

• Darwin Barney is in the midst of a Cubs-record 94 straight error-free games at second base. Comments