Hello First Place: Cubs Sweep Padres

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Jose Macias had three hits Sunday including a homerun, and LHP Glendon Rusch held the San Diego Padres to just one earned run on five hits in 4 2/3 innings, as the Cubs swept the Friars, 4-2. The win, coupled with Houston's extra innings loss to the New York Mets, moved the Cubs into a first place tie with the Astros in the National League Central.

With Sammy Sosa out of the lineup nursing back spasms, the Cubs' offense got the ball rolling early against left-hander David Wells in the Cubs slugger's place.

Aramis Ramirez singled and scored on Ramon Martinez' RBI double in the second inning for the game's first run. An inning later, Ramirez' RBI double would plate Macias to make it 2-0.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Padres answered for their only offensive production of the afternoon. Center fielder Jay Payton singled to right to score Brian Giles, and two batters later, catcher Ramon Hernandez hit into a run-scoring fielder's choice to tie the game at two apiece.

After giving shortstop Khalil Greene the intentional walk, Rusch got Wells (2-4) to ground out to second and end the inning.

In the next half inning, Macias smacked the first pitch he saw from Wells into the seats in left for his first homerun in a Cubs uniform, making it a 3-2 game.

The Cubs' bullpen would proceed to keep the Padre bats at bay for the rest of the afternoon. RHP Francis Beltran (1-1) picked up the win, throwing an inning and a third of scoreless relief. Beltran was one of four Cub relievers on the day who did not allow a hit.

RHPs LaTroy Hawkins, Kyle Farnsworth and Joe Borowski combined to work the final three innings in relief, with Borowski getting the save - his seventh of the season.

Cubs catcher Michael Barrett would add a little insurance in the eighth inning, going deep off RHP Scott Linebrink for his fifth homerun of the season.

NOTES: Joe Borowski converted his 21st save opportunity in a row Sunday, a new Cubs record. Heading into play Sunday, Borowski was tied with Randy Myers for the most consecutive saves converted by a Cubs pitcher with 20. The Cubs have recorded 10 or more hits in 18 of their 22 victories this season. They recorded 12 against the Padres Sunday, and out-hit San Diego 38-19 in the series. Jose Macias, getting his fourth consecutive start at second base, finished with three hits on the day and upped his batting average to .333 for the season. Macias was hitting just .136 prior to getting the start on Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. With the victory, the Cubs have now swept consecutive series in San Diego, and have won seven straight at the Padres home park dating back to May 2, 2002. The Cubs have an off-day Monday and will return home to meet the San Francisco Giants Tuesday.

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