MIAMI -- Willing to be creative to generate some offense, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen switched leadoff hitter Jose Reyes into the No. 3 spot.
The move gave Miami a short-term boost, but it didn't reverse the team's season-long headache of struggling with runners in scoring position.
Kip Wells worked out of a fifth-inning jam, and Yasmani Grandal's three-run triple in a five-run sixth inning rallied the Padres to a 7-2 victory over the Marlins on Friday night in front of 23,161 at Marlins Park.
The Marlins have lost three straight, and eight of their past nine games.
Since beating the Cubs, 9-5, at Wrigley Field on July 17, the Marlins have not scored more than three runs in any of their last nine games.
"That's another chapter in the book. How many weird things are going to happen in 2012? That's another one," Guillen said. "We have the pitcher running, and we couldn't score. We had a hit-and-run, and the guy doesn't take off. All the crazy things are happening."
Demonstrating the bizarre nature of the season, consider what took place on Wednesday in a 7-1 loss to the Braves. Miami stole seven bases and scored one run. It was the first time something similar occurred since the St. Louis Browns swiped seven bags in a 13-inning, 2-1 loss to the Yankees on Aug. 8, 1914.
"Our offense, with what we have, we have to take any little advantage of what we get," Guillen said. "If we don't, it's going to be a tough season."
But a lack of runs was only part of the story in the latest setback.
Carlos Zambrano, who gave up one hit in the first five innings, unraveled in the game-changing, five-run sixth. Once again walks hurt him.
In five-plus innings, Zambrano gave up five runs (four earned) on three hits with four walks and four strikeouts. He walked in a run for the fourth time this year.
"I have to be able to throw the ball over the plate," Zambrano said. "I've been in this game a long time. Nothing upsets me more than a walk. On the other hand, I have to be able to get hitters out. If I don't do that, things will keep happening."
Despite his struggles, losing six of his last seven decisions, Zambrano is keeping his composure and praising his faith.
"When the season started, I had my ERA at 1-point something," Zambrano said. "Everything was happy. I was praising God and talking about God. Now that I'm getting crushed, and I'm all over the place, I'm still praising God. I give Him all of the glory, and I'm moving on.
"I'm sure I will finish strong, not only for me, but for the whole team. I guarantee that."
Early on, it looked as if it would be a good night for the Marlins. The switch from leadoff to the heart of the order paid off in the fourth inning when Reyes ripped an RBI triple to right field. Donovan Solano singled to open the inning, and he scored on Reyes' seventh triple of the season.
Reyes has hit safely in 14 straight games, one shy of his season high.
The Marlins added a second run in the fourth on Carlos Lee's infield RBI single.
While switching Reyes accounted for an early lead, the Marlins again were victimized by the lack of a big hit with runners in scoring position.
In the fifth, Miami caught a break when John Buck reached second on shortstop Everth Cabrera's throwing error. Zambrano singled, putting runners on the corners with no outs, but the Marlins were unable to score.
"To hold them at bay, to keep it right there, I really think the momentum swung back to us there," Padres manager Bud Black said. "You could tell that the Marlins were a little bit dejected after that. They worked it, they just couldn't break through, and I think that gave us a little life."
That missed chance was costly because the Padres exploded for five runs in the sixth, sending 11 to the plate. The inning started with Logan Forsythe's double. Jesus Guzman reached on Solano's error at third. The inning quickly got away from Zambrano, who walked Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin, forcing in a run. Grandal's three-run triple put the Padres on top, and Zambrano was relieved by Chad Gaudin.
Yonder Alonso's RBI single capped the five-run frame.
The Padres chipped in with two more runs off Dan Jennings in the seventh inning, building a commanding lead. Alonso had an RBI single, and Cameron Maybin delivered an RBI double.
As down as the Marlins have been this year, Zambrano is confident the franchise is headed for a bright future, and he said he wants to be part of it.
"I believe this team is going in the right direction," the veteran said. "Probably not this year, but we're focusing on finishing strong. I want to come back next year and help this team, work hard and be one of the leaders of this team.
"I love this organization and I want to be here for next year, because I believe this team will make some moves to make this team good."