Kerry Wood and Mark Prior were polar opposites Wednesday on a chilly afternoon at Wrigley Field as the Cubs and San Diego split a doubleheader.
Their divergent performances failed to provide a conclusive answer to the question of whether or not spring-training games are necessary for starting pitchers.
Wood bombed in an 8-3 loss in Game 1, falling apart early in his second start after missing most of spring training with a shoulder injury.
Sidelined most of the spring with an elbow problem, Prior appeared in peak form, throwing six shutout innings in the Cubs' 8-3 victory in the nightcap.
Prior's velocity was around 91-92 m.p.h., a shade off his usual readings, but he still struck out six and walked only one in a four-hit outing.
"Velocity comes when it's not 35 degrees outside," Prior said. "I'm not a guy that can go out there without sleeves on and John Wayne it. I like it a little bit warmer than it was."
When Prior left the game after striking out Phil Nevin to escape a jam in the sixth, the top of his jersey flapped in the breeze because his top three buttons were unbuttoned.
He gently pumped his fist as he walked off to an ovation, knowing he had silenced his doubters for at least one day.
Derrek Lee's three-run homer off Brian Lawrence (0-2) started the Cubs' offense in Game 2, and Neifi Perez collected six hits in the doubleheader while playing second base and shortstop.
On the flip side, Wood allowed seven runs on nine hits, two walks and a hit batter in 62/3 innings of the opener, falling apart in the first before getting his act together.
Wood essentially put the Cubs out of the game at the outset, allowing four first-inning runs with last year's National League ERA leader, Jake Peavy, on the mound for the Padres.
After serving up a leadoff homer to Geoff Blum, Wood hit Mark Loretta in the hip, then threw seven straight balls en route to loading the bases on back-to-back walks.
Nevin grounded into a force at second to bring home the second run and Wood gave up a run-scoring single on a 3-2 pitch to Ramon Hernandez to make it 3-0.
The final indignity came moments later when Wood fielded Xavier Nady's infield chopper and attempted to whirl and throw to first base in one motion. The ball sailed into right field, allowing another run to score.
What happened in the first?
"I walked a bunch of guys," Wood said. "And that's pretty much how that goes. I have to figure something out in the first inning. The last two times I've pitched, the first inning has been kind of rough."
Wood was satisfied that he "threw the ball pretty well" afterward. But Peavy held the Cubs to two runs on six hits in seven innings.
"He didn't have a feel for his breaking ball early," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "He's really still kind of in spring training, considering how many starts he has had. He settled down and found his release point. In the middle innings he threw the ball well, which was encouraging.
I'm sure he'll be better the next time out."
Wood pitched into the seventh inning, throwing 112 pitches and leaving with the Cubs trailing 7-2.
"I elected to go with him in the seventh because I have another game," Baker said between doubleheader games. "With Prior going, he probably won't go deep, and you don't want to go through your whole bullpen, and then you end up going through your whole bullpen in the second game possibly."
Prior made that a moot point, showing he was ready to go in spite of not throwing against major-league hitters since an exhibition game March 10 in Arizona.
"The reason [spring training] is six weeks is you just need to get in shape," Prior said. "I'm not in 100 percent full shape, but I'm getting there. It's coming."
Padres 8, Cubs 3; Cubs 8, Padres 3