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PHI@SD: Venable singles home the Padres' first run

SAN DIEGO -- Facing a two-time Cy Young Award winner produced a familiar result for the struggling Padres' offense.

With opposing starter Roy Halladay of the Phillies on the mound Sunday, San Diego (8-14) suffered a 3-1 defeat that completed the sweep for Philadelphia (15-6), and was the Padres' 11th straight loss to the Phillies at PETCO Park.

Having scored just three runs in their last 32 innings, Padres hitters fell victim to the strikeout in this one. Halladay (3-1) allowed five hits, fanning a career-high-tying 14 batters, including at least one from every starter in the Padres' lineup other than pitcher Wade LeBlanc.

"You usually don't want to put yourself in a position where you're trying to salvage a game against [Halladay]," third baseman Chase Headley said. "He's tough always, but I think he had pretty much everything going today for him."

The Padres did mount a late comeback threat, bringing the potential winning run to the plate in the ninth, but ultimately fell short as Antonio Bastardo induced a flyout from pinch-hitter Nick Hundley for the game's final out.

"[Halladay] is one of the best in baseball, and he was on today," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We got to him just a little too late. He was really throwing the ball well."

LeBlanc (0-1) was recalled from Triple-A Tucson earlier in the day to make the start and fill a gap that was created by last week's doubleheader in Chicago, also leaving the Padres one reliever short in the bullpen. The left-hander pitched a career-high eight innings, allowing three runs on nine hits, but spared an overworked relief crew, according to Black.

"Wade hung in there," Black said. "He made pitches when he needed to, got some key double plays, and did exactly what we needed him to with our bullpen situation, short a guy. Those guys have pitched a lot this season. When you look at the whole 22 games, those guys have been out there a lot. It was great that he picked up the 'pen the way he did today, and gave us a chance to win. That's tough duty."

LeBlanc, who posted an 8-12 record in 26 games last season for the Padres, matched Halladay for five scoreless innings before the Phillies strung together four consecutive hits and pushed across two runs in the sixth.

"My stuff didn't feel like it was there," LeBlanc said. "I don't know if it was a result of not throwing yesterday at all, or maybe it was just adrenaline from being back up here. I made pitches when I had to, but against a guy like [Halladay], a couple too many mistakes."

Defensively, the Padres had a few near-misses that proved costly in the decisive sixth. Ryan Howard bounced a single under the glove of Brad Hawpe at first base that may have produced a double play had Hawpe fielded it.

Later in the frame, Ryan Ludwick charged a line drive off the bat of Ben Francisco, but the ball kicked off Ludwick's glove for a single.

An inning later, Will Venable dove in an attempt to snare Shane Victorino's hit, but could not hold on and deflected the ball away from center fielder Cameron Maybin as Victorino flew around the bases for his first career inside-the-park home run.

"A player instinctively wants to make plays," Black said. "They're athletic and they want to get out there and make plays. If he catches it, maybe it saves us a run."

With the offense scuffling to this extent, Black said the team cannot let up.

"We've got to keep working, and we've got to grind through this," Black said. "We've got to keep doing our work in the cage and watching video. We have to keep working our [rear ends] off to get to where we need to be."

Headley admitted that the club may be pressing to turn things around.

"I think everybody feels it a little bit," Headley said. "You want to come through in situations where you have a chance to come through. On the other hand, I think we have enough guys who understand that this is a part of it some times, and you've got to just keep going and keep pressing and it's going to turn around eventually."

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