SAN DIEGO -- Kris Bryant and Addison Russell each homered to help Jake Arrieta become the National League's first and lead the Cubs to a 5-3 victory Tuesday night over the Padres for their 21st win in the last 26 games.
Now 80-45, Chicago is the first team in the Majors to win 80 games, and is 35 games over .500 for the first time since Sept. 25, 2008 (96-61). This is the quickest the Cubs have reached 80 wins since 1929, and that team won an NL pennant.
Bryant belted a solo shot for his 33rd homer to keep pace with the Rockies' Nolan Arenado for tops in the NL, while Russell crushed a two-run blast in the fifth for his 19th homer. Both came off Christian Friedrich, who may be headed to the bullpen next to keep his innings count under control.
"He battled hard," said Padres skipper Andy Green. "You could probably look through his outing -- the one pitch he wants back is probably that little hanging changeup he threw to Russell."
Arrieta nearly gave up as many hits as he totaled himself. The right-hander tripled with one out in the sixth, and served up a clean single to right by Alex Dickerson in the second and a two-out double to left by Christian Bethancourt in the eighth. In Arrieta's last start, he walked a career-high seven batters, and the right-hander walked Padres' leadoff man Travis Jankowski. But the Cubs defense came through, turning three double plays. Chicago's starting pitchers now are 14-1 in 21 games this month, totaling 16 quality starts.
"[Arrieta's] fastball command kept getting better game in progress," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That was really reminiscent of last year."
Last year, Arrieta won the NL Cy Young Award, and could win 20 games again this season.
"[Twenty wins] is right on the horizon," Maddon said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Go Toreros: About 275 University of San Diego supporters bought tickets for Tuesday's game to support one of their more famous alums, Bryant, and he didn't disappoint. With one out in the third inning, Bryant smacked his 33rd home run to open a 1-0 lead. He also scored another run, and is the fastest Cub to 100 runs scored since Sammy Sosa reached the century mark in the 121st game. Bryant totaled 100 runs scored in the Cubs' 124th game. Bryant added a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and now has 86 RBIs. More >
"It's pretty cool to hit a home run on the day they're here," Bryant said. "I'm glad they were here showing support."
Coming up short: Trailing by five runs entering the ninth, the Padres managed to bring the winning run to the plate against Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman. But the rally went for naught when Chapman struck out Bethancourt to end the game. Three of four hitters reached base against Francisco Pena to open the frame, prompting Maddon to call on Chapman, who walked a pair before blowing three straight fastballs past Bethancourt.
"You want to get over the hump," Green said. "You want to have that one last, big at-bat to get the win. It's not an easy guy to do it against. Most teams struggle to do it against him, and that's why they acquired him."
Vroom, vroom: With a runner at second and one out in the Chicago fifth, Russell launched his fifth homer in his last five games, and No. 19 of the season 401 feet to center to open a 4-0 lead. Russell now has 82 RBIs, and is the first Cubs shortstop to reach at least 80 since Hall of Famer Ernie Banks did so in 1961.
Off to the 'pen?: Tuesday's start could very well be Friedrich's last in 2016. The Padres are looking to limit his innings after the left-hander spent two seasons as a reliever in Colorado. Counting the Minors, Friedrich has thrown 118 innings this year -- more than double his total from '15. Friedrich allowed five runs over 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday and was done in by the two pitches he left up in the zone to Bryant and Russell. More >
"Obviously my health is a concern, and I understand where they're coming from," Friedrich said of potentially being moved to the bullpen. "But it would be hard to swallow, not playing, knowing you're not hurt, so I'm just going to keep trying to convince them to keep letting me throw as long as I can."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Cubs have hit at least two home runs in their last seven games, the longest multi-homer game streak since a six-game run, Sept. 13-18, 2004. Since 1913, the only longer stretch was an eight-game streak, June 25-July 2, 1961.
Despite being picked off third base in the bottom of the first, Jankowski has now reached base safely in 22 consecutive games. It's the longest active streak in the Majors and the longest by a Padre this season.
The Padres put two men on base in the ninth before Wil Myers roped a single to right field. Jason Heyward fired home just as Luis Sardinas was arriving, and home-plate umpire Nic Lentz initially ruled Sardinas out. But after a San Diego challenge, replays confirmed that Sardinas' clever slide allowed him to swipe the plate without being tagged. The call was overturned, but Aroldis Chapman would enter and shut the door on the Padres.
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs:Kyle Hendricks will close the series against the Padres on Wednesday. Hendricks carries a 2.16 ERA, and since the All-Star break he's 4-1 with a 1.33 ERA. First pitch will be 2:40 p.m. CT from Petco Park.
Padres:Paul Clemens takes the hill for Wednesday's series finale with first pitch slated for 12:40 p.m. PT. In all three of his August starts, Clemens has allowed three runs. The Padres have encouraged him to throw his curveball with greater frequency, and for good reason. Opponents have just a .353 OPS against Clemens' hook this season.