Entering Thursday night, Edinson Volquez had a 5.72 ERA, the highest among qualified starters in the National League. He has been maddeningly inconsistent this season, pitching into the seventh inning just once in the last two months.
And yet, for whatever reason, he's always turned it up a notch when facing the Cubs.
Entering Friday's series opener against Chicago, Volquez is 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA in seven career starts against the Cubs. In those seven starts, his teams are 7-0. Volquez faced Chicago once this year, allowing four runs over 5 2/3 innings on April 30 but picking up the win.
His last outing on Saturday against the Mets was similar. The right-hander labored through five innings but allowed only two runs and won his ninth game of the season.
"That wasn't the most efficient outing," manager Bud Black said afterwards, "but the end result is giving up two runs. And in this day and age, with the way everyone uses their bullpens, it works."
Edwin Jackson, another streaky right-hander, will start for the Cubs. He has an 0-2 record and 6.75 ERA in three August starts, but said after his last outing that he -- like the struggling Cubs -- is not giving up on this season.
"We're out there fighting and battling," he said. "Sometimes things don't work in our favor, sometimes things don't look the best the way we do them. It's a young team and things are going to happen throughout the season. Everybody is giving 110 percent, and at the end of the day, that's all you can ask for."
Cubs: No concrete plans for September callups
Manager Dale Sveum said on Thursday that he has talked to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer about prospects that could join the Cubs when rosters expand in September. However, Sveum said that "nothing concrete" has come from the discussions.
No. 3 prospect Jorge Soler and No. 5 prospect Mike Olt are already on the 40-man roster, making them strong candidates to be called up. Top prospect Javier Baez, who has hit .286 with 33 home runs and 100 RBIs in 119 games between Class A Advanced Daytona and Double-A Tennessee, will likely not be called up this year.
"The numbers, sometimes guys do put you in situations where you do start thinking about it, but those are obviously questions and stuff that have to be dealt with with Jed and Theo," Sveum said when asked if Baez could join the Cubs next month. "But I don't see that happening."
Padres: Venable named NL Player of the Week
Though his career-best 15-game hitting streak ended on Monday, Will Venable has still been one of the hottest hitters in the Padres' lineup over the past month. He was rewarded for his efforts on Wednesday when he was named National League Player of the Week, the first weekly honor of his career.
Venable, who was 1-for-4 on Wednesday, hit .406 last week to earn the award. Since July 14, he is hitting .353 (41-for-116) with 18 extra-base hits (nine doubles, two triples, seven homers), 12 RBIs and 19 runs scored.
"We have talked about Will, almost every night we talk about it," Black said on Sunday. "He's playing great baseball, he really is. He really plays the game hard, and you get rewarded for playing the game hard, and he's being rewarded."
• Padres catcher Nick Hundley is 6-for-14 with a homer and a double since his wife gave birth to their daughter, Allison, on Aug. 15.
• The Cubs have faced 14 consecutive right-handed starters and will face a 15th, Volquez, on Friday. Left-hander Eric Stults will start for the Padres on Saturday.
Friday: RHP Edwin Jackson (7-13, 4.89 ERA) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (9-10, 5.72 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Jeff Samardzija (7-11, 4.12 ERA) vs. LHP Eric Stults (8-10, 3.70 ERA)
Sunday: LHP Chris Rusin (2-3, 3.08 ERA) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (8-8, 3.74 ERA)
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.