SAN DIEGO -- Tsuyoshi Wada struck out nine over 4 2/3 innings on Wednesday, and Kris Bryant knocked in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth as the Cubs edged the Padres, 3-2, at Petco Park.
For the Cubs (22-17), Dexter Fowler and Bryant drove in runs in the fifth off Padres pitcher Tyson Ross (2-4), who allowed three runs in seven innings with three walks and eight strikeouts. Bryant, who singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to nine games, now has 15 RBIs in his last 16 games.
Justin Upton was the singular source of offense for the Padres (20-21), hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning off Wada (1-0), who allowed two runs on four hits with one walk.
Cubs closer Hector Rondon stranded the would-be tying run at third base in the ninth, getting Abraham Almonte to strike out to end the game. Chicago has now won 12 games by one run this season, the most in the Major Leagues.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED J-UP down with home cooking: Another day, another home run at Petco Park for Upton, who has 11 overall this season and already nine at his home ballpark. His two-run shot off Wada went well over the fence in center field in the fourth inning.
What a start: Wada became the first Cubs pitcher to strike out the first four batters he faced in his first start of the season since Frank Castillo did so on April 10, 1992, against the Cardinals, according to STATS LLC. Wada finished with a career-high nine strikeouts and was pulled after throwing 69 pitches over 4 2/3 innings. Wada did his part when he walked to lead off the fifth and scored on Fowler's triple.
"His ball had a little giddy-up on it," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He was really painting the corners early in the game. He had a little hop in the hitting area tonight. He was dotting early."
Said Cubs catcher Miguel Montero: "It's a little hard when you're facing a guy you've never seen. You don't know what to expect." More >
Fitful fifth: The Padres got a double from Will Middlebrooks to start the fifth inning and two walks later in the frame, but they couldn't push home the tying run. Matt Kemp came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs and struck out on a curveball from Cubs reliever Justin Grimm. More >
Missed opportunities: Kemp struck out three times on Wednesday, once in that fitful fifth inning and then again with two runners on in the seventh inning.
"The timing is off. He's going through a rough patch," Black said of Kemp, who is hitting .171 in May after hitting .326 in April.
"It starts with the starters. We have got to pitch deep into the games and give the relievers a blow and let them get back into their routine of coming in, [eighth and ninth innings], finishing it out." Ross on the Padres' consecutive seven-inning starts More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Wada is the first Cubs left-handed starter with nine strikeouts through four innings since Dick Ellsworth did so Aug. 11, 1964.
The Padres had two on and two outs in the fifth, and Wada had thrown 69 pitches when Cubs manager Joe Maddon opted to pull his starter. Why? Part of the reason was that Derek Norris was due up, and he's batting .433 vs. left-handed pitchers this season. Maddon called on Grimm, who walked Norris, and then struck out Kemp to end the inning. The Padres also seemed to have figured Wada out. That happened last season, too. Batters hit .204 against Wada the first time through the lineup, .255 the second time, and .360 the third time.
"He'd done his job," Maddon said of Wada. "I'm more about the Cubs winning as opposed to any particular pitcher winning. You can let him go for one more third of an inning, maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. I thought it was really good and a great game for him to build off of."
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs:Kyle Hendricks will start in the series finale against the Padres on Wednesday. The right-hander did not get a decision in his last start against the Pirates, giving up five runs over 5 2/3 innings. He has struck out 30 and walked nine this season. First pitch will be at 8:10 p.m. CT..
Padres:Odrisamer Despaigne, who is filling in for the injured Brandon Morrow, gets the start in the series finale against the Cubs. Despaigne is always a tough look for opponents who haven't seen him before, with his wide-arsenal of pitches and arm angles. He's struggled his last two starts and needs to pitch well to hold onto his spot in the rotation.