08/24/08 8:55 PM ET
Padres' skid reaches seven games
Giles clubs leadoff shot, but bullpen can't hold advantage
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
On Sunday, even Brian Giles' moon shot of a home run that found water in McCovey Cove to begin the game and a three-run lead weren't enough to sustain these Padres, as they dropped a 7-4 decision to the Giants at AT&T Park.
Worse yet, as if a seven-game losing skid wasn't bad enough, these Padres -- a team that won 89 games last season and missed the postseason by one game -- officially clinched a losing season with the loss.
The Padres, who have done nothing in the last week to stem the stream of losses in hopes of avoiding 100 losses for the first time since 1993, fell to the Giants (58-72) by familiar means -- stranding runners on base, shoddy bullpen work and a play in the field that did not go their way.
What do you have? Eighty-two losses and a big enough chasm now in the National League West -- 10 games behind third-place San Francisco and 20 behind the Diamondbacks, who are headed to PETCO Park on Monday with Dan Haren, Brandon Webb and Randy Johnson ready to take aim at the Padres (48-82).
The Padres' latest loss came at the hands of a Giants team that the Padres rolled over often in 2007, going 14-4 against San Francisco. This season, the Padres are just 4-10 against the Giants with three games left in September.
These Giants are considerably younger than the 2007 team that dropped 91 games, with young pitchers and young position players who have enough speed and athleticism to occasionally make something out of nothing.
"They've got young guys who are really making an impact," said San Diego left fielder Chase Headley. "They're improving. I think you can see what they're trying to do."
And while the Giants continue to look toward the future with shortstop Ivan Ochoa, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and second baseman Emmanuel Burriss, it was one of their elder statesmen on the team, catcher Bengie Molina, who did the most damage Sunday.
Molina had three hits, including a three-run home run in the sixth inning that essentially was the deciding blow in a contest the Padres led 3-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning. All told, Molina knocked in five runs.
"I've seen that before," said Padres manager Bud Black of Molina, who was also with the Angels when Black was a pitching coach in Anaheim. "I've always thought Bengie was a good clutch hitter. He doesn't strike out and is aggressive."
San Diego pitcher Josh Banks didn't come remotely close to replicating his start against the Giants on May 31 at AT&T Park when he took a shutout into the ninth inning before setting for a 5-1 victory with the lone run being an unearned one.
Banks, who had struggled mightily with his control over his last two starts with 13 walks in 8 1/3 innings, had command issues Sunday, though they didn't manifest themselves in walks but more hits by the Giants.
Banks walked one batter but didn't make it out of the fourth inning as he allowed the first four batters of the inning to reach base on two doubles, a hit batter and a single with one run already in.
"Too short," Banks said when asked what he thought about his outing. "For whatever reason, I couldn't get an out in the fourth. I felt like I had to go deeper."
At that point, Black had seen enough.
"I just saw some pitches that were out of location, some hard-hit balls. It was just one of those calls. ... It was just based on how the momentum of the inning was going," Black said.
Left-handed reliever Justin Hampson got out of the bases-loaded, no-out jam by retiring three hitters, all batting from the right-hand side. But Hampson and the Padres wouldn't be as lucky in the fifth inning.
Trailing 3-1, the Giants took the lead off Hampson and fellow reliever Brian Falkenborg when, with one out and two on, Molina lifted a fly ball to left field that Headley appeared to track as he backpedaled toward the wall.
But Headley, glasses down and shading his eyes, lost the ball late and it glanced off the wall for a single that brought in a run to make it 3-2 and extend the inning. Sandoval, a player who started the season in Class A, later punched an RBI single to right field that tied the game.
"I ran to where I thought it would be, but once it got up there, that time of the day, it was right in the sun," said Headley, the converted third baseman. "I didn't see it until it was five feet over my head. I don't know if I've been playing the outfield for 15 years if I make that catch."
Giles gave the Padres hope early on when he became just the 14th visiting player to reach McCovey Cove, the water beyond the right-field wall, since the ballpark opened in 2000.
The Padres added two more runs in the fourth inning on RBI singles by Edgar Gonzalez and Nick Hundley.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.