SAN DIEGO (AP) - The San Diego Padres went from 90 wins to 91 losses, from a riveting pennant race to a ponderous season largely devoid of highlights.
Starlin Castro had two singles to extend his NL-leading total to 206 hits, Alfonso Soriano hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning and the Chicago Cubs beat the Padres 6-2 on Tuesday night in a matchup of 90-game losers.
The loss clinched last place in the NL West for the Padres (70-91). They won 90 games in 2010, but took a face-plant this season after trading All-Star slugger Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox in December.
``Expectations are high every year for every club, and we're not excluded from that,' manager Bud Black said. ``We had a good year last year. This year we didn't. It's disappointing because we felt as though we had a chance to contend with the rest of the clubs. We just didn't play well enough to do that.'
Castro has 12 more hits than Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers. On Wednesday, Castro will become the youngest player ever to lead the NL in hits in a season, at 21 years, 188 days. He'll also become the third Cubs player in seven seasons to lead the NL in hits, joining Juan Pierre (2006) and Derrek Lee (2005).
Castro reached base for the 39th straight game, extending his career-high streak.
Soriano homered off the base of the batter's eye in straightaway center field against Chad Qualls (6-8), giving the Cubs a 4-2 lead. Aramis Ramirez, who homered in the fourth, reached on a leadoff walk before being replaced by Tony Campana, and Bryan LaHair walked with one out ahead of Soriano's 26th homer.
Ramirez hit a drive to straightaway center leading off the fourth against rookie Anthony Bass, his 26th.
Chicago's Blake DeWitt added a pinch-hit, two-run single in the ninth.
Matt Garza (10-10) tied his career high with his fourth straight win. He allowed two runs and five hits, struck out eight and walked two in seven innings.
San Diego's Kyle Blanks hit a two-run double in the second.
Bass, who started the season in Double-A, held the Cubs to one run and five hits in five innings.
``I liked the way he mixed his pitches,' Black said of Bass, who will have a chance to earn a spot in the rotation next season. ``We're seeing improvement in the fastball command. We're seeing more confidence in the slider and changeup for strikes. We're seeing a guy with more poise and composure on the mound. A guy who to me, looks like he belongs.'
NOTES: Castro extended his hitting streak to 10 games, his fifth double-digit streak of the season. ... The season ends Wednesday night when Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster (10-13, 4.53 ERA) faces LHP Wade LeBlanc (4-6, 4.83). Dempster is 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 36 strikeouts in his last four starts against San Diego. LeBlanc will be facing the Cubs for the first time. In a 2-0 win at Colorado in his last start, LeBlanc struck out a career-high 10, the most strikeouts by a Padres pitcher this season.
The Associated Press News Service
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