Frustrated Padres drop one to Tigers
Lefty Wolf whiffs 10 in six innings but still hung with defeat
SAN DIEGO -- A close game, some close calls and another close loss for the Padres. It would seem like another day at the office, but the tension got to the point of no return, especially for manager Bud Black.
Black was ejected in the bottom of the eighth inning after arguing a call, and the Padres fell, 5-3, to the Tigers to close out their three-game Interleague series at PETCO Park on Sunday.
Black disputed home-plate umpire Jim Joyce's call that catcher Michael Barrett's grounder did not hit his foot before entering play. Joyce thought that the ball didn't hit Barrett. The call led to a Tigers double play instead of another opportunity for Barrett.
"From his vantage point, he said it didn't touch him," Black said. "I thought otherwise."
The Padres dealt with various obstacles throughout a ballgame in which they scored first.
Adrian Gonzalez hit a 2-1 pitch over the left-center-field wall in the bottom of the first inning to give the Padres an early lead. It was one of two hits in the game for Gonzalez, who had to deal with Tigers manager Jim Leyland's strategy of intentionally walking him in order to pitch to young third baseman Chase Headley in the third and fifth innings. Headley struck out both times.
"You're talking about the guy that is leading the National League in RBIs," Black said. "He's been our most productive player. He's leading our team in homers. He's a good player. It happens to good players."
The Tigers tied the game in the bottom of the third inning on Carlos Guillen's RBI single to center that scored Edgar Renteria from third. Renteria walked to begin the inning, stole second and moved to third on an error by Barrett.
Following a Renteria infield single in the top of the fifth, the Tigers' Magglio Ordonez hit a two-run home run over the left-field fence off Padres starter Randy Wolf to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
"I left a curveball out over the plate," Wolf said. "Obviously, it's not where I wanted it to be. That was kind of the difference in the game. It's tough. Those are the ones that make it hard to sleep at night. But other than that, I think I pitched pretty well ... just had that one mistake."
The Padres got one of those runs back as Wolf helped out his own cause. He led off the bottom of the fifth with a walk. After Jody Gerut hit a double to left to move Wolf to third, Edgar Gonzalez hit an RBI groundout to short to score Wolf.
Wolf (5-6) went six innings, allowing six hits and three runs (two earned) with a season-high 10 strikeouts and four walks.
"Randy pitched well," Black said. "He'd like to have that pitch back to Ordonez, but three runs, two earned through six innings with 10 strikeouts, I thought his stuff was good. He made some pitches with guys in scoring position to limit their runs. A good lineup with a left-handed pitcher, and they have a lot of right-handed power and a lot of right-handed bats. I thought Randy threw well.
The Padres' bullpen took over with a one-run deficit and again struggled to keep more runs off the board.
In the top of the seventh, Cla Meredith made an error to allow Guillen to reach. Ordonez hit an RBI double to deep center that scored Guillen from first on a close play at the plate. Barrett had the ball barely in his glove when Guillen made it to home plate and knocked it loose.
The bottom of the seventh had two more close calls that could have swung the game in the Padres' direction.
Edgar Gonzalez walked to lead off the inning and Adrian Gonzalez followed him with a single to right. Headley hit a fly ball to deep center that barely missed being his third home run of the year. Edgar Gonzalez moved to third and scored on a RBI double to left by Khalil Greene. Adrian Gonzalez followed his brother home but was called out at the plate. Adrian Gonzalez disagreed with the call, but his claims fell on deaf ears.
"That's the tying run going into the eighth," Adrian said. "That's the part that makes it frustrating."
Ivan Rodriguez added his second home run of the year in the eighth inning off Padres' reliever Heath Bell to provide the final margin.
"We play close games," Black said. "There have been times this season where we have won our share, especially over the last three weeks. But the last week or so, we haven't for a number of reasons. We play close games. We're used to that."
The loss dropped the Padres to 32-45 on the year, and the Tigers improved to 36-39.
The Padres lost their third consecutive Interleague series and welcome the Minnesota Twins to town on Tuesday.
"We had a couple of bad breaks, but at the same time I feel like we have to focus on the things we did well and not beat ourselves up about the things that we didn't do well," Barrett said. "[We need to] come back Tuesday with a positive attitude. We've got another tough team coming in."
Ronald Clark is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.