After three poor pitching performances in a span of four days, the Padres eked out a huge win Tuesday in Chicago, defeating the Cubs 4-3 in 14 innings. And they did it with their best asset — the bullpen — which registered what amounted to a shutout, with five men throwing nine scoreless innings in relief of Greg Maddux.

Maddux started and blew San Diego’s early 3-1 lead, allowing three runs in his five innings of work. Unlike Clay Hensley, who was torched for 10 runs in five frames Monday, Chris Young, who surrendered five runs (four earned) in two innings Sunday against the Dodgers, or David Wells, who gave up five in his 2 1/3 last Friday in Los Angeles, Maddux’s outing was just sub-par. Thankfully for the Pads, this is about as bad as it gets for the old guy.

When he’s on, Maddux can be counted on to go six or seven innings, make 75 or so pitches, and allow three runs or less. If he’s off with his control, even just a bit, and unable to locate precisely like he was Tuesday, the bullpen will be expected to pick up the slack. Over the course of a 162-game season, in fact, expect the bullpen to be taxed following up Maddux’s early departures.

But a win is a win, and it’s important to come out of a long, extra-inning game with something to show for it. Manager Bud Black sent Geoff Blum up to pinch for Kevin Kouzmanoff with two out in the ninth and the bases loaded, hoping for a win in regulation. While that move backfired as he flied to right, it was Blum’s single in the 14th which drove home Khalil Greene, who had doubled, scoring the eventual winning run.

Cla Meredith began the bullpen’s in-game string of scoreless innings, pitching the sixth and seventh without incident. Scott Linebrink, Heath Bell and Doug Brocail each followed with two zeros of their own, and after Blum’s hit gave the Padres the lead, Trevor Hoffman retired the Cubs on a hit and two strikeouts to earn the save.

Next up, the Arizona Diamondbacks, sporting their new “Sedona red” threads, hit town for a two game series at Petco, Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon respectively.


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