It was just another smart play by the Padres in a banner series at Wrigley Field.
Venable hit a two-run single in San Diego's four-run seventh inning and the Padres rallied to beat the Cubs 5-3 Thursday, completing their first four-game sweep of Chicago in their 42-year history.
But it was Venable's heady baserunning that had both clubhouses talking after San Diego's 10th win in 11 games.
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Cubs catcher Koyie Hill thought he had called timeout after he tagged Chase Headley near third at the end of a rundown. Hill was walking slowly toward the mound to talk to reliever Justin Berg and wasn't even thinking about Venable at third.
When Venable and third base coach Glenn Hoffman noticed that umpire Fieldin Culbreth hadn't granted Hill's request, Venable took off. He scored under the tag of first baseman Xavier Nady, who had taken Hill's late throw to the plate.
"That's instinct," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Will very astutely noticed the catcher was up the line and the pitcher was out of the play."
The run made it 5-2 and all but sealed the Cubs' seventh straight home loss, their longest skid at Wrigley since 2006. They were booed repeatedly by the announced crowd of 30,687, a season low.
"It wasn't a lack of concentration. It wasn't cluelessness. It just happened," Hill said. "I don't really know how to explain it. I felt like I'd asked for timeout, the same gesture I always use.
"Ultimately, it's the player's responsibility. I feel like I'm alert on the field. I feel like I'm a step ahead most of the time. But you can't assume anything, and it cost us a run. I guarantee you it won't happen again."
Mat Latos (13-5) had a career-high 10 strikeouts in seven innings for San Diego, yielding two runs and five hits. The right-hander was working on a one-hitter before the Cubs pushed across two runs in the sixth, taking a 2-1 lead on consecutive RBI doubles by Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez.
Yorvit Torrealba popped out with the bases loaded but Venable then lined an 0-2 pitch into center field to put the Padres up 4-2 and send Headley to third.
Berg replaced Marshall and got Chris Denorfia to ground to third baseman Ramirez, who threw home. That started the rundown, leading to Venable's bold move.
"I noticed there wasn't anyone ... and then Hoffy mentioned nonchalantly that timeout hadn't been called," Venable said. "The last thing I want to do is run myself into an out, but when Hoffy said that, it gave me the confidence to go."
The Padres last swept the Cubs in 2006 but that was only a three-game series. They have outscored opponents 58-23 during the 10-1 run that has put them in control of their division.
The 22-year-old Latos has allowed two runs or fewer in a team-record 12 straight starts and has permitted as many as three runs only four times all season. He is 12-2 with a 1.62 ERA since May 7.
He was at his best in the fourth inning Thursday, when he struck out Byrd, Ramirez and Nady on 10 pitches.
"He's got command of all his pitches," Nady said. "Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the pitcher."
- The Cubs called up OF Sam Fuld from Triple-A Iowa to take the roster spot of 1B Derrek Lee, who was traded to Atlanta for prospects on Wednesday. The Cubs had told 1B Micah Hoffpauir he was being promoted, but because they just sent him down Monday he isn't eligible to come back up until next week.
- The Padres placed CF Tony Gwynn Jr. on the 15-day disabled list with a broken bone in right hand.
- Bell hadn't given up a run to the Cubs in 18 innings dating back to July 16, 2006.
- With Lee gone, Cubs OF Tyler Colvin will start taking grounders at first base, a position he last played when he was in college.