Starting pitcher Jason Marquis had a rough follow-up to his strong outing in Los Angeles last week, surrendering five first-inning runs, including home runs by Ryan Braun and Yuniesky Betancourt.
"I've been battling for a while," Marquis said. "When you throw balls out over the middle of the plate with not much on them, that's obviously what happens. I've just got to focus on getting better."
Marquis singled out his lack of command with his fastball, as the primary issue, and said he has been struggling with that in each outing this season.
"I just don't feel comfortable on the mound," Marquis said. "My fastball command is not where I want it to be. The slider is there, but there are only so many times you can go to that. It all starts with my fastball command and getting my sinker down in the zone, and I really haven't been doing that. Even in L.A., I had good numbers, but my execution with my sinker hasn't been there."
Manager Bud Black echoed Marquis' statement about fastball command.
"He couldn't really get anything going in that first inning," Black said. "Braun hit a first-pitch fastball that sort of tailed, and Braun is a good fastball hitter. He squared it up. Betancourt did the same. Jason just couldn't find the range or the fastball command early in the first."
Marquis struggled from the start, allowing a single to Jean Segura to lead off the game. Two batters later, Braun, who had a three-homer game in his last visit to Petco Park, sent the first pitch from Marquis over the wall in left-center field and into the Padres' bullpen. After Marquis hit consecutive batters later in the inning, Betancourt pulled a ball over the left-field fence for a three-run shot that gave the Brewers a 5-0 lead.
"Sometimes you just feel comfortable in a batter's box, you see the ball well, you just feel like there's a batter's eye that's comfortable for you," said Braun. "Every ballpark is a little bit different and for whatever reason, I've just felt comfortable here."
The Brewers' winning streak also coincides with a stretch of eight straight games in which they have homered.
Marquis did recover after the shaky first and cruised until the fifth when he again struggled with his location, walking the first two batters. Braun followed with a single to put the Brewers up 6-0 and Carlos Gomez drew a walk later in the frame that chased Marquis from the game.
"He started mixing in the slider a bit more and throwing more sliders," Black said. "His fastball command came back. He got his grounders, got some strikeouts. But I think they didn't really let him get to his slider in the first inning. Braun hit a first-pitch fastball, and Betancourt a first-pitch fastball. By that time, we had dug ourselves a little bit of a hole there."
Marquis was charged with all seven runs, going 4 2/3 innings and allowing four hits. He walked four and struck out four batters, following his previous outing in which he turned in the best performance by a Padres starter this year by going 7 2/3 innings and allowing just one run.
Jedd Gyorko was the only Padres player with multiple hits in the contest, and scored the lone San Diego run after doubling to lead off the fifth. Gyorko came home on a groundout by Anthony Bass, who took over for Marquis. The rookie Gyorko also singled in the ninth.
"You're just trying to throw good at-bats together, really," Gyorko said about facing Lohse. "You know he's a good pitcher and he's going to paint outside. We have kind of been struggling to where we are getting some hits but not bunching them together. A hit here, a hit there but nothing put together. When you do that, you're not going to score very many runs."
The San Diego bats mostly remained cool against Lohse, who picked up his first victory with his new team. Lohse, who signed with Milwaukee in the offseason, allowed one run on five hits through five innings. He exited the game after suffering an injury to his left pinky finger.
"I don't think he's going to wow anybody with his stuff, he just knows how to pitch," Gyorko said of Lohse. "He's going to hit the corners, he's going to throw three or four pitches for strikes. It makes it a tough at-bat when a guy is not making any mistakes."
When Everth Cabrera walked and stole second in the first, it appeared as though the Padres' scoreless streak might end early in the game. But, Cabrera was thrown out trying to advance to third on a fly out to left field. Although Cabrera beat the throw to the bag, he slid too far and could not keep his feet on the base as Alex Gonzalez applied the tag.
Yonder Alonso attempted some run-manufacturing of his own, dropping a bunt single to lead off the second. Mark Kotsay followed with a double play ground ball, however, and the Padres scattered a few singles over the next few innings before breaking through in the fifth.
Despite collecting more hits than the Brewers, the Padres ended up with little to show for it, save for some encouraging words from their manager.
"We're fortunate that we have over 140 games left, but you've got to keep a consistent approach every day expecting to win," Black said. "The way we played in Los Angeles was a great sign. We didn't swing the bats well in San Francisco, but we pitched okay. Today, we got behind the eight-ball early, but we out-hit them and made some good plays in the field. Just the complete game, we're not playing. We have to do that more often. You just can't do it here and there. You have to string these games together."
Bass pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit. He did throw a wild pitch to the first batter he faced, which brought home Rickie Weeks and pushed the Brewers lead to 7-0.