Estes earns his 100th victory

San Diego Padres pitcher Shawn Estes pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 13, 2008, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

San Diego Padres pitcher Shawn Estes pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 13, 2008, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

After all the 1991 Douglas High graduate Shawn Estes has gone through, it was understandable what he was feeling after winning his 100th game as a Major League pitcher.

Making his first start since April 5, 2006, the veteran lefty worked into the sixth with a one-run lead, and the Padres bullpen made it hold for Estes (1-0), who picked up his 100th career victory in San Diego's 4-3 win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night.

Suffice it to say, this win meant a lot.

"More than you can imagine," Estes told MLB.com. "There was a lot of frustration the last couple years, and I didn't think I was going to make it back last year. "I was going through a lot of pain in my elbow again, then coming to Spring Training, I was dealing with the mental side of pitching again and having to make a team, and then having to swallow my pride a little bit and go back to Triple-A and get things right.

"Fortunately for me, I was able to do that, and I'm back now."

Estes, who has made it back from elbow surgery, allowed three runs - two earned -- on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings, while walking one and striking out two in his first victory since Sept. 9, 2005.

"It's sort of what we saw coming in Spring Training," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He wasn't ready to pitch in the big leagues mentally and, really, physically. Even though he was throwing the ball well, you have to get into the rhythm and routing of starting again. And I think that's what helped him in Triple-A."

Estes fell behind 3-0 lead after two innings. He served up a homer to the first batter he faced, Alfonso Soriano, and gave up a two-run double to Reed Johnson in the second.

"Soriano's first at-bat wasn't a very good greeting for a guy who hadn't (started) in two years in the big leagues but I was able to make pitches after that and settle down," Estes told the Associated Press.

Johnson said he was impressed with the way Estes threw the ball.

"I think he got settled into a rhythm," Johnson said. "He was throwing a lot of strikes, and he was going after guys, too. He'd fall behind some big hitters in big situations and come right after them. Sometimes you have to just tip your hat to him. In those situations, pitchers sometimes can make it worse by walking guys, and he was able to go right after guys and got out of trouble."

The Padres scored all four of their runs in the fourth, with Estes scoring what turned out to be the winning run. Khalil Green hit his third home run of the season, a three-run shot that tied the game at 3. His shot cleared the left-field fence and landed on Sheffield Avenue.

Estes then singled off Cubs starter Jason Marquis (1-3), advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Jody Gerut's double.

There was a gusty wind blowing out the entire game and a steady rain throughout. But Estes was able to locate and mix his pitches and keep the Cubs off-balance.

"It was never an easy inning today," Estes said, "and I knew that, coming into it, I was facing a hot team. The guys are swinging the bats pretty well at home. The wind was blowing straight out, less-than-stellar conditions.

"But my first start in two years, I didn't know what to expect out of myself. I was battling, just trying to go out there and survive."

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