- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 25, 2014

MESA, Ariz. (AP) - Eric Stults pitched effectively into the sixth inning and Tommy Medica hit a two-run homer off Carlos Villanueva, sending the San Diego Padres to a 7-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night.

Stults gave up a leadoff triple to Emilio Bonifacio, who scored on a groundout, and allowed two more runners in the first inning but avoided further damage. The left-hander settled down from there, yielding five hits in 5 2-3 innings with one walk and three strikeouts.

“The last two starts he has thrown the ball well,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “The first part of spring he didn’t feel real comfortable with his release point and he wasn’t finishing his pitches. He wasn’t quite getting out over his right side, but I think he cleaned that up in a couple of bullpen sessions and took it out to the game.”

Medica, a first baseman, continued his push for a roster spot with his third home run, which broke a 1-all tie in the fourth. Medica is hitting .349 and leads the team in hits (22), runs (10) and homers.

Seth Smith and Everth Cabrera both had two hits for the Padres

Villanueva gave up three runs on three hits and three walks in four innings. He struck out three.

“I feel good and can’t wait to get this thing started,” he said. “At this stage in my career, I feel ready for the season.”

Bonifacio and Welington Castillo, who doubled in the sixth, had the only extra-base hits for the Cubs before a crowd of 15,126 at their new spring training ballpark.

STARTING TIME

Padres: Projected as San Diego’s fourth starter, Stults also got out of a jam in the third after allowing singles to Donnie Murphy and Anthony Rizzo with one out.

“That’s his trademark, his steadiness and consistency,” Black said. “We need that out of him again. Last year he threw over 200 innings and it would be fantastic if he did that again.”

Cubs: Villanueva hasn’t been told yet if he’ll be a starter or a reliever. He has 18 strikeouts in 15 2-3 innings this spring, but his ERA is a lofty 6.35.

“My stuff is crisp,” he said. “I feel if I get a guy to two strikes right now that I’m getting to the point where I am confident that I am going to get him out.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Padres: Outfielder Chris Denorfia, sidelined with a sore right shoulder since Thursday, is expected to return to game action this week, Black said.

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