CHICAGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres may be at the bottom of the National League, but Austin Hedges is at the top of his game.
Hedges hit a go-ahead, three-run homer, Robbie Erlin pitched two-hit ball over five innings in a spot start and the Padres beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 on Thursday night to end a season-high, seven-game losing streak.
Hedges went deep off Jesse Chavez (3-2) in the sixth inning for a 3-1 lead, his third homer in six games and seventh overall. Hedges and Manuel Margot each had three of the Padres' 15 hits, and Margot, Eric Hosmer and A.J. Ellis drove in runs.
In 20-games since July 3, Hedges is batting .333 with five homers and 11 RBIs.
The 25-year-old catcher was out from May 1 until June 24 with right elbow tendinitis. Now he says he feels his best since debuting in the majors with San Diego in 2015.
"In the big leagues for sure," Hedges said. "It's nice to make adjustments and going off the DL and playing with the guys, so I'm just going to keep on trying going."
Erlin (2-3) allowed one run, struck out four and walked one in his third start this season and first since May 21. He didn't allow a runner until Jason Heyward's infield single with two outs in the fourth.
"I thought (Erlin) was outstanding," manager Andy Green said. "I thought he threw the ball well and gave us great tempo for the game, attacked very well and our bats woke up in the second half of that baseball game."
In his two previous starts, Erlin allowed 11 earned runs in seven innings. He made his big league debut at Wrigley Field on April 30, 2013, and this was his 28th major league start.
What was different this time for the left-hander?
"I just tried to keep my focus on one pitch at a time, one hitter at a time," Erlin said. "I feel like I got away from that previously and I kind of got caught up in who's coming up next and the next inning, which isn't really effective."
Four relievers followed in a three-hitter for the Padres, who have the NL's worst record at 43-68. Right fielder Hunter Renfroe made a sliding grab on Willson Contreras' liner for the final out.
Mike Montgomery yielded one run and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings for the Cubs, who remained one game ahead of second-place Milwaukee in the NL Central. The left-hander rebounded after yielding five runs and 12 hits in five innings at St. Louis last Friday.
"Definitely an improvement over the last game," said Montgomery, who has changed the grip on his curveball. "I thought the breaking ball was a lot better tonight.
"I thought I made some pitches where I needed to, but credit to them. They had some hits I made good pitches on."
Montgomery put the Cubs ahead in the fifth when he hit a comebacker with runners at the corners and one out. Erlin threw to second for a forceout, and shortstop Freddy Galvis made a one-hop throw home, trying for a double play. Shane Livensparger ruled Contreras out, but the call was overturned when a video review found Conteras got his right hand on the plate ahead of the tag by Hedges.
Montgomery walked Hosmer in the sixth, Christian Villanueva singled off Chavez to cap an 11-pitch at-bat, and Hedges homered deep to left on the next pitch.
Hosmer hit an RBI single in the seventh off Justin Wilson. Ellis had an RBI double in the eighth against Brian Duensing and scored when Margot grounded into a forceout.
Padres: LF Wil Myers left in the sixth inning with a bruised left foot. ... RHP Bryan Mitchell (right elbow tendinitis) allowed two runs and two hits over 2 2/3 innings for Class A Lake Elsinore, throwing 28 of 50 pitches for strikes. He was 0-3 with a 7.08 ERA, making seven starts and then five relief appearances before going on the disabled list on June 20. Green said he wants Mitchell's to get stretched out in the minors so he can rejoin the rotation.
Cubs: RHP Brandon Morrow (right biceps inflammation) made about 30 tosses from flat ground ranging out to about 60 feet. Morrow, who has 22 saves in 24 chances, hasn't pitched since July 15.
Padres RHP Tyson Ross (6-8, 4.41) faces LHP Jose Quintana (9-7, 4.26) on Friday. Ross is 1-3 in and has an 8.87 ERA in his last five starts. Quintana gave up six runs in three innings at St. Louis last Saturday.