No matter how Randy Wells finishes, he's got a head start on 2010.
Matt Cain outdueled the rookie Sunday to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 5-1 victory over the Cubs and avoid a sweep.
Wells (11-10) served up five runs on a season-high 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings to take the loss. The right-hander, who will get one more start next Saturday at Wrigley Field, has been the biggest surprise of this season for the Cubs.
"He came to camp and we liked him but we were looking at him more as a bullpen pitcher," Lou Piniella said, "and he goes down to [Triple-A] Iowa and starts and pitches well and comes here, and he solidified himself a spot in the rotation for next year. He's pitched very well."
Wells will be included in the Cubs' projected 2010 rotation of Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Tom Gorzelanny. Jeff Samardzija, slated to start Friday and who will pitch in Mexico this winter, also is a candidate for a spot.
"Our pitching is pretty settled," Piniella said.
Wells has totaled a personal-high 158 1/3 innings and is the first Cubs rookie to reach 11 wins in a season since Kerry Wood won 13 in 1998.
"This is good experience for Randy pitching well into September," Piniella said. "You have to do that as a Major League pitcher so you might as well get used to it.
"Whatever he does next time out is just a bonus," he said. "We're pleased with his performance and it's good he's getting extended pitching all the way."
Wells doesn't like the "bonus" baby tag.
"I hate that," Wells said. "I'm not here as a sideshow or fill-in. I want to be part of the rotation next year. I hate that analogy. I'm here to pitch and I'm here to pitch for a long time. I don't like losing. I hate losing. I hate walks. I hate cheap base hits. All that stuff is stuff for me to build off of and learn from and be better next year."
Catcher Koyie Hill didn't fault Wells. The right-hander made his pitches.
"He's not a guy who's going to overpower anybody," Hill said. "He relies on execution and his location of his pitches. Randy doesn't very often make mistakes above the waist. When he does, he leaves himself out there a little bit. Sometiems you just get beat. He made some good pitches today that were hit."
The Giants loaded the bases with one out in the first and scored when Juan Uribe hit into a fielder's choice, but Wells escaped without any further damage. Eli Whiteside smacked a pair of RBI doubles, connecting in the second and again in the sixth.
Cain (14-7) was tough and held the Cubs to three hits over eight innings. He's now 5-2 in eight career starts against Chicago and has given up one run in his last 30 innings against the team.
"[Cain's] delivery is free and easy, and boom, something nasty comes out," said Bobby Scales, who hit an RBI triple in the ninth. "He's really good. We faced four pretty good arms in this series and for us to come out with three wins, that's pretty good. Tip your cap to that guy today -- he's excellent."
Wells is working on reaching that same level. He was most upset about the Giants jumping out to an early lead and not being able to set a good tone.
"I haven't used the excuse all year and I'm not going to use it now, but it's a learning curve for me," Wells said. "I'm the type of person who will learn and who will not make the same mistake twice. If I can take anything away from this year, it's been a big learning process for me. I've learned how to pitch, I've learned how to manage games. Do I always do it? No, but that's another thing I'll learn from."
He's got one more start.
"I'm looking forward to getting back out there and showing them I belong here," he said.