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HOU@SD: Ludwick singles home Bartlett in the third

SAN DIEGO -- By the looks of it, the Padres had all but lost by the third inning, despite a few pushes here and there, in Thursday's 7-4 setback to the Astros.

And after the game, Padres manager Bud Black shared the same sentiment.

"Bad inning, no doubt," Black said of the Astros' (22-34) five-run third. "Any team that commits three errors in an inning and gives up four hits, there's going to be a number of runs scored, and that's what happened. It got a little closer as the game went on, but that inning did us in."

Yes, three errors. One inning. To date, the Padres (24-33) had recorded in three errors in one other game -- May 15 against Colorado. On Thursday, they matched it in an inning.

San Diego starter Tim Stauffer gave up a leadoff single to Clint Barmes, and Hunter Pence singled to center field to put runners on first and second with no outs. Carlos Lee followed with a ground-rule double over the left-center-field wall.

"Just one of those innings you want to forget about, just one of those bad innings," Stauffer said.

After Lee's double, Houston took advantage of three errors -- committed by Kyle Phillips on catcher's interference, shortstop Jason Bartlett on a bobbled grounder and second baseman Logan Forsythe on a high throw to first base.

Third baseman Chase Headley said he thought there was really only one actual error in the inning, at least by his count.

"In my eyes, there was really only one error," he said. "I mean you've got the freak catcher's interference, but you know, the double play, that's a play that hopefully gets made, but I didn't think there was an error to Bartlett. It was coming at him, pretty tough play, bad hop."

Nevertheless, Houston seized the opportunity.

"Any time you get extra outs, it's important to take advantage of them," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "We got some hits that inning, too, which was big."

San Diego scrounged up some offense to keep the Astros on their toes. The Padres scored two runs in the bottom of the third inning on RBI singles by Headley and Ryan Ludwick. San Diego scored two more runs in the seventh on subsequent sacrifice flies by Chris Denorfia and Eric Patterson.

With Headley's hit, he pushed his career-best hitting streak to 12 games.

"We kept fighting after [the third inning] and we scored some runs late, but it wasn't enough," Stauffer said.

Stauffer (1-4) pitched five innings and gave up seven runs (five earned) on eight hits. Houston starting pitcher Bud Norris threw six innings before he was taken out. Norris (3-4) gave up four runs on six hits.

Both the Padres' and Astros' bullpens turned in scoreless efforts Thursday night. Mark Melancon picked up his fifth save of the season.

Black said Stauffer had good stuff, but that he just couldn't execute. Without the five-run inning, Stauffer only surrendered two more runs: a home run and an RBI single by Chris Johnson.

Stauffer wasn't satisfied with any part of it.

"I wasn't very happy with pretty much everything," he said. "You know, I felt pretty good out there. I just didn't execute. I threw too many pitches, wasted pitches. I just wasn't aggressive enough with my fastball and that's what hurt me today."

Thursday's loss was the start of an 11-game stretch at PETCO Park, where the team has struggled this season. The Padres are now 9-21 at home this year, but the issue in most of the previous games has been offense.

In many of those losses, four runs would have sufficed. This time, defense was the culprit.

"Coming into the season we thought that [defense] would be a strong point, and at times, it probably hasn't been," Headley said.

Black said he's surprised by the way his team has defended this year. The Padres have the fourth most errors in the big leagues with 43 in 56 games.

"I thought our defense would be much crisper," Black said.

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