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Cubs win season-best 7th in a row

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The San Diego Padres were no match for another
pretty hot team, the Chicago Cubs.

Glendon Rusch pitched a four-hit shutout and Derrek Lee had
three more hits to raise his average to .389, leading Chicago to a
5-0 victory Thursday night, the Cubs' season-high seventh straight
win.

The impressive start from Rusch (5-1) was exactly what the Cubs
needed after taxing their bullpen in a three-game sweep at Los
Angeles.

He allowed just four singles in pitching his first complete game
of the season and his third career shutout. The left-hander retired
17 of his last 19 batters, struck out seven and walked one. Only
one Padres' baserunner reached second.

"That was great for us," manager Dusty Baker said. "My
bullpen's a little spent, some guys need some days off and that was
just what the doctor ordered. He even got a hit. He threw a great
ballgame."

Rusch threw 122 pitches, "more pitches than what we wanted him
to," Baker said, "but when you've got a chance for a
complete-game shutout, you've got to go for it."

Rusch improved to 3-1 with two no-decisions since moving into
the rotation after Kerry Wood went on the disabled list with a
strained right shoulder on May 3. Mark Prior also is on the DL with
a fracture near his right elbow.

"I think everybody here takes pride in stepping in and doing
the best job we can when those guys aren't healthy," Rusch said.
"We know when we get them healthy, we're going to be a real force
to be reckoned with."

As it is, the Cubs have gone from three games under .500 to
28-24 in one week, and have pulled within 5½ games of NL
Central-leading St. Louis.

"I said a few weeks ago that we've been playing good baseball,
we've just been an inch short of winning ballgames, and now we're
on the other end of the spectrum," Rusch said.

Rusch credited his defense, and he had a nice play, too. When
Dave Roberts hit a grounder leading off the sixth, Rusch fielded
the ball and, as he dived, scooped it with his glove to first
baseman Lee for the putout.

"We couldn't do anything offensively," Padres manager Bruce
Bochy said. "He came right at us and got it done tonight. We hit
some balls hard, but right at someone."

The Padres lost for the second straight night to a left-hander.
Doug Davis and the Milwaukee Brewers won 5-2 on Wednesday.

"We need to get the bats rolling," Bochy said.

The NL West-leading Padres lost consecutive games for just the
second time in 32 games. They were 22-6 in May, their best month
ever. San Diego also lost consecutive games at home for the first
time this season.

The Cubs have had at least 10 hits in every game of the winning
streak. The Cubs also won their sixth straight road game, the first
time they've done that since 1991.

Lee, whose average is the best in the majors, walked in his
first two at-bats against rookie Tim Stauffer. He singled in his
next three at-bats, making him 8-for-8 over two games and 11-for-13
in his last three.

His first single of the night, to right-center in the sixth
inning, was the 1,000th hit of his career.

Lee came up through the Padres' organization and played his
first 22 big league games with San Diego in 1997 before being sent
to Florida that December in the deal that brought Kevin Brown to
the Padres.

Lee matched his career high with five hits in a 9-5 win over the
Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.

Rusch doubled leading off the third and Lee walked with two outs
ahead of Jeromy Burnitz's double into the left-center gap for a 2-0
lead.

Aramis Ramirez and Jason Dubois hit RBI singles in the sixth.
Todd Walker had a leadoff homer to right-center in the seventh, his
second. The 418-foot shot was the longest at Petco Park this year.

"Once we jumped out, and added a couple more runs on them, it
was a good cushion for me to be aggressive and get ahead," Rusch
said.

Stauffer (1-2) allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings,
walked two and struck out one.

Game notes
Rusch's win coupled with John Koronka's victory Wednesday
against the Dodgers marked the first time Cubs lefties have won
consecutive games since Steve Trout and Jamie Moyer did it July
21-22, 1987. ... San Diego's Geoff Blum singled in consecutive
at-bats for his seventh straight multi-hit game, the longest
current streak in the majors. ... The last Padres player with seven
straight multihit games was Tony Gwynn in July 1995. ... Padres 3B
Sean Burroughs missed his eighth straight start with a strained
left quadriceps. Bochy said there's a chance Burroughs will start
Friday night against the Cubs. ... Neifi Perez of the Cubs singled
in the ninth to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.