After scoring just seven runs total in their first five games in San Diego this year, the Cubs scored a 7-1 victory over the Padres on Wednesday.
Remaining six games behind the Cardinals and chasing teams from both the NL West and NL East for a wild-card bid, the Cubs know it's going to be an uphill battle, and they know they have to get moving now.
"There has to be a sense of urgency," said GM Jim Hendry. "We just haven't played up to our capabilities."
Field manager Lou Piniella cited injuries to key players and to four of their five starting pitchers. However, he conceded things should have been better for a team that was the consensus pick to win the NL Central.
"We've had a lot of adversity, injury-wise, and that hasn't helped us, and we've had some people who haven't had the years they've had in the past," Piniella said. "At the same time, could we be better than what we are? I think we could be better."
The victory improved the Cubs to 61-57. They won 97 games a year ago.
CUBS 7, PADRES 1: RHP Rich Harden pitched seven innings of one-hit shutout ball to improve to 8-7. The Cubs scored three runs in the third, two coming in on 3B Aramis Ramirez's double. RF Milton Bradley and 1B Derrek Lee later hit solo homers.
--RHP Carlos Zambrano will make a minor league rehab start Thursday night for Class A Peoria as he recovers from lower back spasms. Zambrano is scheduled to throw 75-80 pitches. If that goes well, he will start Tuesday at home against Washington.
--2B Jeff Baker extended his hitting streak to nine games with a second-inning double. Baker scored the game's first run. During the streak, Baker is 17-for-36. He figures to play 5-6 times a week for the rest of the year after winning the job away from the slumping Mike Fontenot.
--Harden won for the first time since July 26, but he turned in his third straight quality start and sixth in seven outings. The Cubs have 72 quality starts, and their starters have an ERA of 2.21 in those games.
--LF Alfonso Soriano hit his first triple since 2007 in the fifth inning. He has not homered since July 29. The Cubs were encouraged because the triple went to right-center, or Soriano's opposite field. The way the Cubs see it, when Soriano is going the opposite way, it means he is staying on the ball longer.
--Bradley homered in the sixth for his first homer since July 30. Bradley walked his first three times up. The RBI was only his 31st of the season.
--SS Ryan Theriot went 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored, raising his batting average to .300. Theriot went 0-for-5 Tuesday after missing two games with a stomach virus.