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STL@SD: Hawpe's two-run homer gives the Padres a lead

SAN DIEGO -- Orlando Hudson tried diving for Daniel Descalso's grounder, but the ball bounced off the tip of the second baseman's glove and into center field.

While Allen Craig ran home, scoring the go-ahead run in the 11th inning of the Padres' 3-2 loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday, Hudson lay facedown in the dirt for just a little longer than usual.

"Right now, we've just gotten back in that rut," Padres first baseman Brad Hawpe said. "We've faced some Cy Young winners and equivalent for a few days, but that's no excuses on some of the other guys we've faced. We just haven't been swinging the bat well.

"When it rains, it pours."

The Padres (19-30) managed two hits on Tuesday before a crowd of 19,426 at PETCO Park. The first was a two-run homer in the first inning by Hawpe. The second was a Chase Headley double in the fourth inning. After that, the San Diego bats went 0-for-19 against the Cardinals' pitching and defense.

"Of course it felt great," Hawpe said of his home run. "Good pitch to hit, changeup right out over the plate. Good to take an early lead, but after that, that was it."

Though the Cardinals' bullpen, led by Miguel Batista (3-1), and starter Kyle McClellan held the Padres in line, the Cardinals' defense was even more demoralizing for the Padres.

St. Louis made plenty of key defensive plays, including left fielder Lance Berkman's diving catch for the first out in the bottom of the 11th inning.

"There were Gold Gloves everywhere out there," Hawpe said. "You're not swinging good, you feel like you're facing Cy Young and there's 15 guys out there every time."

Tuesday's offensive deficiency was just one game in a growing line of subpar offensive showings for the Padres in their current homestand. In this stretch of eight games at PETCO Park, with one still to be played, the Padres are 1-6 and have scored eight runs with a .169 batting average.

"We've got to keep grinding through it, we really do," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We've got to keep grinding and hope some of those balls would fall. We saw two again tonight. Berkman's catch. Craig's catch against [Jason] Bartlett. ... Things just aren't going our way."

Even with the low offensive output, the Padres have been in the last two games late. On Monday, San Diego took a 1-1 game into the ninth before losing to the Cardinals, and Tuesday the Padres kept the National League's best hitting team to two runs through 10 innings.

The Cardinals (30-20) may have out-hit the Padres 12-2, but San Diego has stayed in the past two games with good pitching. San Diego native Aaron Harang pitched seven innings and allowed two runs (one earned).

"I felt good," Harang said. "I felt like I was making pitches when I needed to, and I was getting big outs when I needed them."

The San Diego bullpen did the same thing for much of the game. In the ninth inning, Padres closer Heath Bell gave up a leadoff single, but then retired the next three batters.

In the 11th inning, Padres reliever Ernesto Frieri (1-2) walked his first batter, Craig. He struck out the next two, but Descalso snuck his tiebreaking single past second base.

Eventually, the way the game had been going, the Cardinals' bats were going to find a way, it just wasn't expected from Descalso.

But, then again, Descalso knocked in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning for St. Louis on Monday, and in those two games, he's 5-for-9 with two runs and two RBIs.

"Have you ever seen a .230 hitter do more damage than him?" Cardinals reliever Miguel Batista said. "I think the pitchers may look at his batting average and get careless."

Descalso was the dagger again. Black said the Padres show up to the ballpark expecting to win each game, but the "rut" they're in, as Hawpe described it, certainly seems to be making it difficult.

"Once we can all get on the right path and get everything clicking on all cylinders we'll be all right," Harang said. Comments