NEW YORK -- The Padres' off-day Monday came after Clayton Richard's complete game Sunday, meaning their eight-man bullpen was as fresh as it could possibly be entering play Tuesday night.
Good thing, too. Because Jhoulys Chacin quickly came unraveled, lasting two-thirds of an inning in a 9-3 loss to the Mets at Citi Field. His short start continued a worrying trend for Padres starting pitchers: In the last time through the rotation, three different hurlers have allowed five runs or more in the first, putting the Friars instantly behind the eight ball.
"All of our starting pitchers have thrown good outings at times," said Padres manager Andy Green. "It's bad timing when you think of it that way. But losing Trevor [Cahill to a right-shoulder strain] hurts us a little bit, too. He was throwing the ball incredibly well."
On Friday, Jered Weaver coughed up seven runs without making it through the opening frame, a day before he was placed on the disabled list with hip inflammation. Luis Perdomo struggled the following day, allowing eight runs over three-plus.
But if there's a silver lining in the recent rotation woes, it's that the relief corps has limited the damage on all three occasions. In that sense, the 'pen isn't nearly as taxed as it probably should be, considering the circumstances.
For the second time in a week, Craig Stammen pitched three very good innings in relief, before tiring a bit in his fourth. Rule 5 pick Miguel Diaz also chipped in with two perfect frames on Tuesday.
So what's the key to success in the bullpen when the game seems out of reach?
"Get them out," Stammen responded, succinctly.
"Yeah," he continued. "If I don't get them out, somebody else is going to have to wear it. I've got to make good pitches and hopefully settle the game down, so our offense can give us a chance to win."
And therein lies the biggest issue in Green's mind. Over the weekend, he was displeased with the quality of his offense's at-bats after the team fell behind early.
On Tuesday, he noticed a bit more fight. The Padres clawed two runs back against Mets starter Matt Harvey in the second. They also made him work early, drawing four walks in the first four innings. In the sixth, Ryan Schimpf launched his 11th homer to cut into the deficit.
"What I'm mostly focused on is: How can we collectively respond to the adversity in the first inning?" Green said. "I thought, first couple innings, we had good at-bats. Then we started expanding the strike zone against a guy who couldn't find the strike zone."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.