Padres lose, then release Cruz
Germano pitches well with the exception of two homers
SAN DIEGO -- The easy part, in retrospect, was probably making the deals for the three newest Padres who will join the team on Wednesday at PETCO Park -- Morgan Ensberg, Rob Mackowiak and Wilfredo Ledezma.
The harder part started late Tuesday and likely will stretch into Wednesday as the Padres decide what players off their 25-man roster they'll have to jettison to accommodate these newcomers.
The Padres announced the first of the three moves following their 4-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks before a crowd of 32,080 at PETCO Park.
Veteran outfielder Jose Cruz Jr. was released after the game. Two more roster moves -- with both figuring to be pitchers -- will be made before Wednesday's game against the Diamondbacks.
As for Tuesday's game, this one can essentially be summed up in two words: Brandon Webb. Webb (10-8) held the Padres to three hits over seven innings as the Padres fell 1 1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks (59-49) in the National League West.
Webb struck out seven, running his strikeout total to 36 in 28 innings against the Padres (56-49) this season, even though the 2006 Cy Young winner's victory Tuesday was his first in four attempts against San Diego this season.
"A lot of movement ... a lot more than the previous game in Arizona," Padres manager Bud Black said. "When we had him in good counts he made the pitch or got through the at-bat. Going against a Cy Young winner and one of the best pitchers in the league, you expect him to be stingy."
Aside from Tuesday's results, the decision to release Cruz made sense, as the addition of Scott Hairston from Arizona last week and Mackowiak on Tuesday coupled with Milton Bradley's hot-hitting this month (.328), made Cruz expendable.
Cruz had just two hits in 36 at-bats in July, and finding playing time for him has grown to be increasingly difficult.
"Cruzer did a great job the first three months of the season," Black said of Cruz, who hit .234 with six home runs and 21 RBIs in 255 at-bats. "He played extremely well. He was instrumental in how we started the season."
The Padres still have two more roster moves to make, and since they are carrying 13 pitches, one of the moves, if not both, will involve a pitcher.
Starting pitcher Tim Stauffer, who allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings on Sunday filling in for the injured Chris Young, is a candidate to be optioned to Triple-A Portland.
Newcomer Joe Thatcher -- picked up last week from the Brewers in the Scott Linebrink deal -- might be another, though the Padres like what he's done so far. Because he's more of a situational pitcher, he might stay.
Another left-handed relief pitcher, Justin Hampson, might be headed back to Portland if for no other reason than one of the pitchers the Padres acquired from Atlanta on Tuesday (Ledezma) is a long reliever.
Veteran outfielder Brian Giles said the loss of Cruz hurts because he was a guy who had been with the team during Spring Training, was a contributor early in the year and was a friend.
"There's a lot of uncertainty, a lot of guys looking over their shoulder right now. We still don't have all the guys that we traded for," Giles said. "We can't control the decisions the front office makes. Sometimes it's hard to lose good teammates, good friends, especially when you are right in the thick of things."
While the Padres couldn't mount much offense against Webb, their starting pitcher -- Justin Germano -- pitched well, if not for a pair of two-run home runs that he allowed to Stephen Drew and Chris Young.
Germano, who has won once since June 14, allowed four runs on four hits and tied his season-high for strikeouts with seven.
"The bottom line is I've got to figure out what I've got to do to stop giving up those home runs," said Germano, who has allowed eight home runs over his last seven starts. "That's what's been hurting me lately, big time. I thought I pitched well, just made those two bad pitches and that's what cost us the game."
Pitcher Clay Hensley -- who was replaced by Germano in the rotation in May when he went on the disabled list with a groin injury -- tossed three scoreless innings in relief with four strikeouts.
"I thought Clay threw the ball well," Black said. "His sinker had great action to it. I was very encouraged by Clay's performance."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.