"There are going to be nights when he makes outs," manager Don Mattingly revealed. "It's the big leagues."
In other news, Clayton Kershaw was outpitched by Jason Marquis, and the Dodgers missed a chance to sweep the series and escape last place in the National League West.
On the bright side, the Dodgers' other rookie slugger, Scott Van Slyke, homered to make it close for a while, a towering shot with one out in the seventh inning, his sixth in only 19 games.
Skip Schumaker broke up Marquis' no-hit bid with two outs in the sixth, a double to center and only the second ball hit by a Dodger to leave the infield, giving Schumaker a 12-game hitting streak. Adrian Gonzalez followed with a two-out one-hopper off the glove of second baseman Jedd Gyorko that scored Schumaker, ruled an RBI single.
As for Puig, he didn't homer, earn any curtain calls or throw anybody out from right field (almost though). His batting average went from .625 to .417, although Puig couldn't believe the third strike called by plate umpire Tim Timmons in the eighth inning.
"We all had trouble with him tonight," Puig said of Marquis, who was able to locate down and on the corners in ways Double-A pitchers are usually not capable.
Puig, however, said he didn't notice Marquis pitching him any differently than the Padres did the first two nights, when he went 5-for-8 with two homers.
Kershaw pitched well enough to win with decent offensive support, which he often doesn't get. He's 5-4 on the season, the Dodgers scoring a total of six runs in the four losses.
"It bothers me that he's giving us a chance to win and we're not putting any runs up for the most part," said Mattingly. "That wouldn't just be him. That would be any of our guys that are pitching well. It's just a concern for our club. You've got to put up more than two."
While Marquis was making it look easy (7-2 with a six-game win streak), Kershaw had to work.
"It was a battle; I threw a lot of pitches," said Kershaw. "Give them credit, they battled every at-bat. A couple at-bats I gave up two-out runs, obviously you never want to do that. We scored less than they did. I've got to give up less runs."
He needed 120 pitches to get through six innings, the most he's thrown in a loss, and this was the first time in eight starts he didn't last at least seven innings. Two of three runs he allowed were earned on seven hits, with nine strikeouts and three walks.
"Kershaw is tough, no doubt about it," said Padres manager Bud Black. "People just don't get on base. I thought we had very competitive at-bats throughout the game. We showed a lot of patience, didn't expand the zone and had a lot of baserunners."
San Diego's second-inning run was unearned, as shortstop Hanley Ramirez tried to steal an infield hit from Jesus Guzman and bounced the ball into the photo well. With Guzman now on second, Yasmani Grandal hit a soft single to right field and a charging Puig overran the ball as Guzman scored.
Heads-up defense by the Dodgers snuffed out a Padres run in the third inning when Carlos Quentin lined out to center field with one out and runners on the corners. Chris Denofria tagged from third, but before he could touch home plate, substitute center fielder Andre Ethier threw to first base ahead of trail runner Everth Cabrera, who ranged too far toward second to beat the throw back.
Gyorko led off the top of the fourth with a home run into the Dodgers bullpen to extend San Diego's lead to 2-0.
The sixth inning was Kershaw's last. He allowed a leadoff walk to Gyorko, who went to second on Kyle Blanks' groundout and scored on a double by Guzman. The Dodgers then bungled a rundown play, but Kershaw escaped by striking out Marquis and Denorfia.
The game was winnable for the Dodgers until a three-run ninth inning for the Padres off Paco Rodriguez, who walked three of the six batters he faced. With Matt Guerrier hurting and Ronald Belisario already having made another ineffective appearance, a weary J.P. Howell inherited loaded bases and no outs, and all three of Rodriguez's runners scored.
"We gave ourselves a chance at the end of the game. It's frustrating from that standpoint and kind of being stuck at the back end there," said Mattingly. "We had to use our lefties tonight. We're going to need Zack [Greinke] to pitch well tomorrow."