SAN DIEGO -- The rubber game of the Padres' three-game series with the Giants can be summed up in two words: missed opportunities.
San Francisco handed San Diego three unearned runs with four costly errors, but those three runs were all the Padres would get. Despite nine hits and three bases-loaded opportunities, San Diego could not add another run and suffered an 8-3 loss to its division rivals in front of 22,015 at Petco Park on Thursday afternoon.
"That game's 4-3 in the sixth inning, anything could happen," Padres manager Bud Black said. "But they kept adding on late against our bullpen, and we just couldn't crawl back enough to make it a game. We just couldn't get that hit."
All told, the Padres were 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position, and they left 13 runners on base. San Diego had three bases-loaded chances, and it failed to score with any of them against Matt Cain and the Giants' bullpen.
"Cain worked out of some trouble today, even though they made some errors behind him. He worked out of some jams," Black said. "We just couldn't get that big hit. At the end of the day, he's gonna end up with a W, but we had a shot to turn the tables and we didn't."
The Giants, also beneficiaries of multiple unearned runs thanks to a Jason Marquis throwing error in the first, scored four runs off the Padres' bullpen to put the game out of San Diego's reach late. Costly throwing error aside, Marquis looked solid in his first outing as a Padre, yielding two earned runs and striking out six in six innings of work.
"I put my team in a hole early on, but for the most part, I settled in," Marquis said. "I made my pitches when I needed to, got the outs I needed to, got the contact I wanted to. So it was around that third inning that I got settled; obviously it was too late at that point."
It shouldn't have been too late.
The Padres' offense had its chances to erase the early deficit. While Cain did strike out nine en route to his sixth straight win, San Diego put runners in scoring position in six different innings. Chase Headley and Everth Cabrera each smacked three hits in the game, and even Marquis got in on the hit parade, adding a single in his first Padres at-bat, igniting a three-run rally in the third.
As San Diego failed to capitalize on its opportunities, the normally reliable Padres bullpen failed to keep the club within striking distance. The trio of Brad Brach, Alex Hinshaw and newly acquired Ross Ohlendorf combined to yield four runs and two home runs, including a two-run shot to Angel Pagan that extended the Giant's hitting streak to 15 games.
But squandered opportunities were the story of the entire series for San Diego, as the Padres combined to go 5-for-40 with runners in scoring position and leave 24 men on base in the three-game set. That lack of clutch hitting was costly: The two losses in three games sent San Diego to 20 games below .500.
Struggles like that can wear on a team, especially a team in the midst of a grueling 45-day stretch in which it will take three 10-day road trips. That's the situation for the Padres, who embarked on the second of those trips after the game, and will take on the Brewers in Milwaukee on Friday evening.
"It's obviously easier to be in the game, to be intense, to carry that emotion when you're winning," Headley said. "But we're professionals, we got to find a way to be ready to play every day regardless of what we did the night before, the month before."
Despite recent frustrations, Black believes his team is doing just that.
"We got a pretty strong group in there, those guys come every day to play; we got a lot of pride," Black said. "They come to play, I think that's evident in how they're running the bases and going after ground balls, diving and trying to make plays. It's just not happening for us."
Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.