Padres never get going against Rusch
Left-hander shuts Friars down as Stauffer takes loss
SAN DIEGO -- Geoff Blum extended his streak of multi-hit games to seven, something no Padres batter has done since 1995, when a fellow named Tony Gwynn was wielding a magic wand.
So much for the positive news in the Padres' camp in the aftermath of a 5-0 loss to the Cubs.
It was a case of too much Glendon Rusch, too much Derrek Lee and Jeromy Burnitz -- too much of everything colored red, white and blue, Cubbies style, on Thursday night at PETCO Park.
Behind Rusch's four-hit gem, the Cubs pushed their winning streak to seven games and made sufferers of the Padres for the second night in a row -- something that's happened just once to them since the end of April.
On the bright side, the Friars retained their three-game NL West lead over the Diamondbacks, who were beaten by the Mets in New York.
"They definitely stole some of our thunder tonight," said Blum, who also had a hit stolen by Rusch, who pulled off a backhanded stab of his sharp grounder in the ninth inning.
Blum, who is in the middle of a sizzling stretch in which he has batted .469 (13-for-32), had two singles to drive his season average to .303. When he reached second in the fourth inning on Phil Nevin's single, it was the deepest advancement by a Padres baserunner all night. Blum was stranded when Ramon Hernandez flied to center and Miguel Ojeda struck out.
"He was throwing 80 percent fastballs," Nevin said of Rusch (5-1). "He threw strikes, hit the corners. That's an ideal game plan, and he stuck with it. There's a lot to be said for throwing strikes."
Playing right field with Brian Giles getting the night off, Ojeda wrestled with a drive to right-center by Rusch leading off the third. The ball landed beyond the backup catcher's glove, and Rusch eventually scored on a two-out, two-run double to left-center by Burnitz against rookie Tim Stauffer.
"He hit it good," Giles said, "and that's a big area to cover out there. You don't expect a pitcher to go that deep. We were playing him shallow."
Padres manager Bruce Bochy seemed prepared for second-guessing of his decision to play Ojeda in right. "The ball kept carrying on him," Bochy said. "He's played well out there. Any time you have somebody out there who hasn't played a lot, [there will be speculation]. I thought it was a good time to give Giles a [day off]."
Xavier Nady, with considerably more outfield experience than Ojeda, was available to play right field, but Bochy gave Ojeda the nod as a reward for the healthy cuts he's been taking lately. It didn't pay off against Rusch, but Ojeda was robbed of a hit by shortstop Neifi Perez with a leaping catch of his line drive in the seventh.
Stauffer (1-2) had no luck with the torrid Lee and Burnitz, who combined for six hits, three walks, three runs scored and two RBIs.
After tearing it up throughout May during a 22-6 run that represented the best month in franchise history, the Padres have fallen silent offensively against a pair of southpaws -- the Brewers' Doug Davis and Rusch.
"It's going to happen," Bochy said. "I don't think it's a problem for us. We ran into two left-handers who threw well."
Nevin wasn't about to concede that the Padres are lapsing into an offensive funk.
"Our run isn't over," the first baseman said, after extending his hitting streak to eight games, during which he's batted .417 with 11 RBIs. "We haven't lost any confidence over here. We've played just as well as they have. We'll come out and play our game [Friday night]."
"We're playing good baseball," Blum said. "There's no reason to put our heads down. We've got Adam Eaton going [on Friday]. I feel good about our chances."
The last time the Padres lost two in a row -- at Seattle May 21-22 -- they bounced back with seven wins in the next eight games.
"It's a four-game series," Blum said. "We've got three more games to make adjustments and try to beat them."
Woody Williams, coming back from a strained oblique sustained May 2, reported that his long-toss session went well before Thursday's game, but that he hasn't been informed where he'll make his start this weekend.
According to Bochy, Williams will either have a rehab assignment in Lake Elsinore, or he'll start Sunday against the Cubs if Jake Peavy, ailing with the flu, can't make his scheduled start.
Lyle Spencer is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.