Bullpen falters as Padres fall in finale

Bullpen falters as Padres fall in finale

Bullpen falters as Padres fall in finale
CHICAGO -- The big hop hit toward Chase Headley in the eighth inning Wednesday presented him with two clear and distinct choices, though neither was entirely palatable for the Padres' third baseman.

Charge in fast on Starlin Castro's ground ball with a runner on third base and try to make a risky, do-or-die play on the Cubs speedy shortstop or wait back for the ball to come down in order to get a firmer grip in order to make an accurate throw.

"Either way, it's tough," Headley said.

That adjective can best describe the Padres day at Wrigley Field, as they lost a three-run lead when the Cubs came back for an 8-6 victory when Darwin Barney hit a two-run walk-off home run off Dale Thayer in the ninth inning at Wrigley Field, though Castro's game-tying hit one inning earlier set the stage for the game-winner.


That can also be said for this series for the Padres, who were 4-for-34 with runners in scoring position. It's also an apt descriptor for the lost road trip that saw the team go 1-9, though Carlos Quentin tried to carry the offense with two home runs Wednesday and three in the series.

The Padres had a three-run lead entering the bottom of the fifth inning. They hit three, two-run home runs for the first time since Aug. 10, 2008. Yet they couldn't win as seven pitchers, starting with rookie starter Anthony Bass, combined for seven walks.

"It's frustrating because I can look back on 10 different things throughout the game that we could have done better," Headley said. "It's not a lack of effort thing. But it's the little things that when you're not doing them consistently, you lose games."

One of those situations came in the eighth inning and the Padres holding a 6-5 lead with relief pitcher Andrew Cashner on the mound.

Cashner, the former Cub, got two outs before pinch-hitter Reed Johnson singled to left. That's when the Cubs brought in pinch-runner Tony Campana, who promptly stole second base even though the Padres called for a pitchout.

"He's fast," Padres manager Bud Black said of Campana. "The pitchout was just a touch too high, too."

Campana didn't stay at second base as long as, with two outs, the Padres were playing back with Castro at the plate. That allowed him to steal third base uncontested.

"They just weren't really paying attention and [Cubs third-base coach Pat Listach] gave me a little open hand over there like, 'Hey I think you can get it,' so I just went," Campana said.

Black said that even if the Padres attempt to hold Campana closer to second base, there's no guarantee he doesn't steal. Also, having an infielder or both middle infielders pinch the middle to keep Campana close allows for vacated spots in the infield.

"Where are you going to give up ground?" Black said. "You hold him [Campana] and you're going to give up a lot of ground in the middle of the diamond."

That set up Castro's game-tying hit, as he chopped a ball out in front of the plate that Headley had to react to quickly. He stayed back to get the ball, but his throw to first base was late as Campana scored when Castro, sliding headfirst, was ruled safe.

"It's one of those players where I was playing him in the hole to take away a cheap ground ball," Headley said. "You have to make a decision. I thought my best chance was to get that big hop. He's not a slow guy. Looking back, maybe I try a do-or-die play there. I don't know."

Bass, given a 6-3 lead entering the fifth inning, couldn't get out of the inning. He allowed five runs on six hits with four walks in 4 2/3 innings. He walked Ian Stewart to force in a run to make it 6-4. That's when Black went to his bullpen for another rookie, Miles Mikolas, who walked in a run as well to make it 6-5.

The Padres started fast against the Cubs. Chris Denorfia hit a two-run home run in the second inning off Ryan Dempster. Quentin -- who hardly looked like the guy who missed the first 49 games of the season after March knee surgery -- hit a two-run home run in the third inning to center field.

Two innings later, Quentin hit a bullet to right field that cleared the ivy. All told, he reached base four times, as he also walked and had a double. In his first three games, Quentin is 7-for-12 with three doubles, three home runs and six RBIs.

"Carlos is obviously off to a great start," Black said. "And Deeno helped him out. But we couldn't muster more about those two guys. We're not a club who can ride on just two guys."

Even if one of those guys is swinging a torrid bat right out of the gate.

"I'm seeing the ball well and I'm not trying to do too much with it," Quentin said. "I'm just focused on having quality at-bats. When you're doing that, you do everything you can to take advantage of it."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.