Two well-pitched games have resulted in a split in this series between the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres.
There won't be a low-scoring game in Thursday night's finale if San Diego's Odrisamer Despaigne turns in a start similar to his last two.
The Padres starter has nowhere to go but up after getting ripped for 15 runs over his last two outings heading into his first career start against the visiting Cubs.
San Diego (20-21) posted a 4-3 victory in Tuesday's opener, as the Padres' James Shields and Cubs' Jason Hammel each received no-decisions after seven stellar innings for each.
Chicago (22-17) won 3-2 the next night with 4 1-3 innings of scoreless relief after starter Tsuyoshi Wada struck out a career-high nine over 4 2-3 innings in his season debut after being out with a left groin strain. Tyson Ross absorbed the loss after he allowed three runs and struck out eight in seven innings.
The Cubs have struck out 24 times in this series - increasing their major league-high total to 387 - but they may like their chances of making solid contact Thursday.
That's because Despaigne (2-2, 6.75 ERA) surrendered eight runs in five innings in an 11-0 loss at Arizona on May 7 and seven over three in Friday's 10-0 home defeat to Washington.
"I think my control has been a little inconsistent," the Cuban right-hander said through a translator. "One time it's my fastball that's not working and the next time it's my curveball that's not working. It's just a matter of consistency."
Those outings are in stark contrast to Despaigne's first two starts April 14 and 20 in which he went 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA.
The only available Chicago hitter he has faced in the past is Miguel Montero, who is 3 for 10 with a homer.
The Cubs will start Kyle Hendricks (0-1, 5.15), who earned his first career victory with seven innings of five-hit ball in a 6-0 victory over San Diego on July 22. The right-hander faced the Padres most recently April 18 when he gave up two runs over six innings with eight strikeouts in a 7-6, 11-inning win.
Matt Kemp has the most at-bats among San Diego hitters versus Hendricks, going 1 for 6 with a homer.
Hendricks has failed to get through the sixth inning in his last five starts, giving up five runs in 5 2-3 in Friday's 11-10, 12-inning home win over Pittsburgh. The Cubs have dropped his last three road starts.
University of San Diego product Kris Bryant is 12 for 29 with three homers and nine RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak in which the Cubs are 7-2.
Chicago has won the most one-run games in baseball with a 12-7 mark.
Kemp is 0 for 8 with four strikeouts in this series to drop to 4 for 20 against the Cubs this year.
Justin Upton homered Wednesday, going deep for the third time in his last three games.