In the first game since Cabrera was suspended for the final 50 games of the season for violating MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the Padres' offense showed little spunk in dropping a 4-1 decision to the Orioles in front of a crowd of 28,055 at Petco Park on Tuesday.
Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones had four hits, including a home run, and pitcher Bud Norris allowed one run in six innings as the Orioles won the first game of the two-game Interleague series.
The Padres had just two hits through the first five innings before avoiding being shut out with a run in the sixth. San Diego stranded a runner at third with no outs in the first two innings and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
"Our situational hitting was not good tonight," Padres manager Bud Black said. "There were a couple of at-bats that weren't very good. We had some pitches to hit and either took them or fouled them off. We've got to do a better job."
Cabrera, suspended on Monday, has left a noticeable void at the top of the Padres' lineup and defensively at shortstop. Logan Forsythe got the start at shortstop against the Orioles and went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
The Padres certainly could have used Cabrera's bat, one that produced a .283 average and a .355 on-base percentage before the suspension. But the way Norris was throwing, it might not have mattered much.
"For the most part, [he was] doing a good job locating his fastball, he was working quite quick. I think his secondary stuff was pretty good, too," Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "Today was one of those days where he had all his pitches going and it was a battle."
Norris, in his second start since being obtained from the Astros last week, allowed two hits in the first five innings, though the Padres (52-61) certainly had their chances.
"To me, that's the game," Black said of his team's offensive struggles.
Norris allowed a leadoff triple in the first inning to Will Venable before retiring the next three hitters as Venable remained at third. The Padres got the first two hitters on in the second inning, but Norris got Nick Hundley to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Venable then walked with one out in the third inning and stole second base. But Norris struck out Chris Denorfia and got Chase Headley to ground out.
The Padres finally got a run in the sixth, though the damage against Norris could have been much greater.
Denorfia and Headley singled and Alonso did the same, which allowed Denorfia to score as the Padres cut the lead to 2-1. But Norris got the next three hitters -- Jedd Gyorko, Alexi Amarista and Forsythe -- to end the inning and minimize the damage.
"I think we had our chances today and we just couldn't capitalize for some reason. [Norris] made some good pitches when he had to and we got to learn from that and keep going," Alonso said.
Chris Davis gave the Orioles (62-51) a little insurance in the eighth when he went down and got a slider from Padres reliever Luke Gregerson, lining it into the right-field corner. For Davis, it was his 103rd RBI of the season. The Orioles added a run in the ninth inning with closer Jim Johnson getting the last three outs for his 39th save.
San Diego pitcher Edinson Volquez (8-9) had a few vexing moments sprinkled in with a handful of stretches where his secondary pitches, his curveball, in particular, looked devastating. He allowed two runs on six hits in six innings with two walks and six strikeouts.
"The curveball was good for him, he got a lot of outs on the curve," Black said. "He got a lot of swings and misses."
Volquez allowed a double on the first pitch he threw, as Nate McLouth lined a ball into right field. Two batters later, and now with two outs, he allowed an RBI single to Jones.
It was Jones again who had a big swing in the fourth inning when he jumped on a first-pitch changeup for a home run into the first deck of the Western Metal Supply building in left field. Volquez bounced back by striking out the next three hitters -- Davis, Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy -- on curveballs.
"He's a great hitter. First-pitch swinging and he just hit it out, so the homer there was nothing you can do. He put a good swing on the ball and hit it out," Volquez said of Jones.
Jones, who went to nearby Morse High in San Diego, said he was just trying to square up a good pitch from Volquez. It just happened to be the first one he saw.
"I never sat on any other pitch than a fastball and he didn't throw many fastballs to me, anyway," Jones said. "I was just trying to see something up and it was a strike and stayed right there. I hit it off the end, but I was able to stay behind it just enough and get it out."
Norris wasn't so much a mystery to Black and the Padres, as they saw him four times from 2010-11 as a member of the Astros. In fact, Norris was 2-1 with a 3.13 in those four starts, including one where he tossed seven shutout innings in a win at Petco Park on July 3, 2010.
Norris allowed one run on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts.