CHICAGO (AP) — Joe Musgrove pitched seven effective innings in his third straight win, and the San Diego Padres handed the Chicago Cubs their 10th consecutive loss with a 6-4 victory on Thursday.
Musgrove (8-0) permitted two runs and five hits, struck out a season-high nine and walked one. The 6-foot-5 right-hander has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his 12 starts this year.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in major league baseball right now, the way he’s moving pitches, the way he’s locating very good,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said. “We had a couple chances but weren’t able to come through.”
San Diego improved to 7-2 in its last nine games with its first four-game series sweep of Chicago since Aug. 16-19, 2010, at Wrigley Field. The Padres’ 41-24 record matches their best 65-game start since 1998, when the club won the NL West and advanced to the World Series.
The Cubs have been outscored 90-28 during their longest slide since they lost 12 consecutive games from Aug. 5-16. They have held leads in seven of the 10 straight losses.
“I don’t try to find similarities, but this one just feels a little like we don’t have that guy coming back around to stop things,” Cubs manager David Ross said.
Cubs rookie Christopher Morel led off the first with his second homer in as many games, but Matt Swarmer (1-2) was knocked out in the fourth.
San Diego went ahead to stay with three runs in the second. Nomar Mazara hit a two-run drive for his first homer with the Padres, and Jake Cronenworth added an RBI double.
“I’ve been feeling pretty good at the plate, but I was looking for that, too, for that first (home run),” Mazara said. “Finally happened, and I’m grateful for it.”
Mazara has five hits and seven RBIs in his…