Cubs-Padres Preview

San Diego Padres ace Jake Peavy would rather pitch against Chicago's North Side team than for the city's South Side team.

With the way the Cubs are swinging the bats, he cannot be blamed for that choice.

After blocking a trade to the White Sox, Peavy looks to help the Padres win their seventh straight Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the sputtering Cubs, who are trying to avoid losing five in a row for the first time this season

On Thursday, San Diego (19-22) agreed to trade Peavy (3-5, 3.82 ERA) to the White Sox, but the 2007 NL Cy Young winner opted not to waive his no-trade clause.

"As of right now, this is the best place for us to be. We made that decision for the time being," Peavy said hours before a 3-2 win over San Francisco. "I don't want to be any kind of distraction to the team. We're playing as well as we possibly can and I've got a big game (Friday) vs. the Chicago Cubs."

Peavy is coming off a four-hitter with eight strikeouts Sunday in a 3-1 victory over Cincinnati.

Before the start of the season, the Cubs (21-18) tried to trade for Peavy, but couldn't manufacture a deal. Against Chicago on May 12, Peavy allowed three runs and six hits with nine strikeouts in six innings of a 6-2 loss.

The Padres were swept at Wrigley Field last week but haven't lost since. In the finale against the Giants, Scott Hairston singled in Tony Gwynn Jr. -- obtained from Milwaukee earlier in the day -- to cap a two-run, ninth-inning rally.

"It builds confidence for us to put runners on and win a ball game," Hairston said.

San Diego now looks to win seven straight for the first time since Sept. 14-20, 2007.

Chicago, meanwhile, heads to the West Coast after totaling two runs and 14 hits while being swept in three games by St. Louis.

"You know what they say about the stock market, you're looking for a bottom," manager Lou Piniella said after a 3-1 loss Thursday. "Well, hopefully we've found the bottom here in St. Louis."

Alfonso Soriano was 1 for 12 with six strikeouts in the series, and hopes to get back on track versus Peavy. The left fielder is 6 for 13 with two home runs and three doubles in his career against him.

Chicago sends its own ace to the mound in the opener with Carlos Zambrano (3-1, 4.50) scheduled to come off the disabled list.

Zambrano, who has been sidelined since straining his left hamstring running out a bunt single against Florida on May 3, will be limited to around 85 or 90 pitches.

The right-hander struggled a bit in a rehab start for Class-A Daytona on Sunday, allowing four runs and five hits in 3 2-3 innings, but did not appear bothered by the hamstring.

"No problems, it's (100 percent)," he said.

Zambrano, who needs one victory for 100 in his career, has had no trouble beating San Diego lately.

The three-time All-Star is 6-1 with a 1.80 ERA in eight starts against the Padres since 2003, and 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA in four career outings at Petco Park. The only blemish came on June 16, 2007, when he gave up one run and two hits in a complete-game, 1-0 loss.