Win streak at nine for frolickin' Friars

Win streak at nine for frolickin' Friars

SAN DIEGO -- This, Chris Young insisted, "was all about the offense." The high-rise right-hander was being much too modest, but his point was well taken in the afterglow of a ninth consecutive Padres victory.

Given the Padres' season-long struggle to make their offense sing, seven runs against Greg Maddux in 3 2/3 innings represent something to twist and shout about.

Lathered up by Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." in the pregame clubhouse, the Padres looked born to run in their 8-3 conquest of the Cubs on Monday night, completing a four-game sweep of Dusty Baker's troupe in front of 24,139 PETCO Park aficionados.

Enjoying one of the finest games of his career, Dave Roberts set the fast-break tone from the start. The leadoff catalyst walked, stole second and scored on the first of three hits by Mike Cameron, who came around to score on the first of three hits by Brian Giles.

The top of the order blasted away at the great Maddux until the National League Pitcher of the Month for April was sent off to his earliest shower since June 15, 2005, when he also lasted 3 2/3 innings while yielding seven runs against the Marlins.

Roberts, Cameron and Giles were a combined 6-for-7 with two walks against Maddux, who also gave up a two-out single to Mike Piazza. The catcher hammered another single to center later, serving notice that his legendary bat might be heating up.

The Padres stole four bases -- three by Roberts -- while playing spectacular defense behind Young (3-2) and three relievers, continuing a trend of superior play that has carried them into third place and right on the heels of Colorado and Arizona in the National League West.

"In this ballpark," said Roberts, "that's the way you have to score runs. There might be some days when you can hit some home runs, but over 81 games, you've got to find ways to create runs. Going from first to third, stealing bases, putting pressure on the defense -- that's a way you can be successful here."

Showing exactly how that is done, Roberts delivered two singles, a triple, two walks, three steals and four runs scored.

"I feel confident," Roberts said, having raised his average to .275. "I like this team. It's nice that every night, somebody else can be a hero. It takes the pressure off everyone."

Following his league-leading sixth triple in the third, Roberts scored on a two-out single slashed to center by Piazza after Giles had been walked intentionally.

"Fans were going, `Make 'em pay,'" Piazza said, grinning. "I try not to let that [walking Giles to get to him] get me too aggressive; I just try to use it as a motivator."

This was one of a number of "quality at-bats" alluded to by manager Bruce Bochy against Maddux. Roberts felt the most impressive of all belonged to Cameron, right behind him in the fourth.

"I like this team. It's nice that every night, somebody else can be a hero. It takes the pressure off everyone."
-- Dave Roberts

The Padres had pushed their lead to 4-1 with Khalil Greene's sixth homer -- a remarkable shot to left on a high, inside fastball. Adrian Gonzalez celebrated his 24th birthday with a line single to left, ending an 0-for-17 drought, and he was bunted to second by Young.

When Roberts slapped a single to left, Gonzalez stopped at third. On an 0-1 pitch, Roberts bolted for second and reached with his second steal.

"Mike took an 0-1 pitch as I was stealing to get himself in an 0-2 count," Roberts said. "That takes a lot of confidence, to do that against a guy like Maddux. Then he worked the count to 3-2 and drove that double [down the left-field line] that kind of broke the game open.

"I thought that was a huge at-bat."

Cameron, who scored on a searing double to left-center by Giles that ended Maddux's night, had been too ill to play on Sunday with virus-like symptoms.

Young, whose 3.61 ERA is better than Maddux's 3.64, was leading, 3-0, when the Cubs finally broke through in the fourth, scoring without a hit. Jacque Jones homered to center against Young leading off the seventh. With a 7-1 cushion, Young was throwing strikes.

When Neifi Perez singled and scored on Ronny Cedeno's triple, Bochy decided that 110 pitches were enough for his big right-hander and motioned for Alan Embree, who retired Walker on one delivery.

The eighth inning, with Scott Cassidy on the mound, featured Greene at his acrobatic best. After Michael Barrett singled, Aramis Ramirez sent a bullet headed toward center. Greene made a sprawling stab, flipped to Josh Barfield with the glove hand, and watched the young second baseman complete the double play with a strong throw to Gonzalez.

"There isn't too much to it," Greene said with characteristic modesty. "One step, two steps, go down ... and make the play. I wouldn't say it's my favorite play, but it's a quick, fast-moving play."

Guaranteed, it was Cassidy's favorite play. He was out of the inning when Giles gloved Matt Murton's line drive, and it was left to Dewon Brazelton to finish after Giles' sacrifice fly delivered Roberts with the final run in the eighth.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.