Bats go quiet as Ross' streak of quality starts ends

Ace allows three-run homer as offense unable to produce support

Bats go quiet as Ross' streak of quality starts ends

DENVER -- Starting Monday, the Padres begin their finishing kick of 2014, a stretch of 20 games over 21 days that will take them through the conclusion of a season that has been frustrating on a lot of fronts.

No more so than this lost weekend in Denver, where the Padres were not only swept in a three-game series but shut out twice, the latest being a 6-0 setback on Sunday before a crowd of 26,102 at Coors Field, who probably went home wondering which team was in last place in the National League West.

"Offensively, we haven't done much," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Our bats have gone silent."

The Padres (66-76) were shut out for the 18th time this season, as they managed just six hits. They lost even with their best starting pitcher, Tyson Ross, on the mound.

Ross (13-13) made but one mistake, allowing a three-run home run to Jackson Williams in the second inning, the first big league home run for the Rockies' reserve catcher.

On Sunday, Ross saw his franchise record of 14 consecutive quality starts end as he was unable to get the final out of the sixth inning. He allowed three runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings with three walks and six strikeouts.

"It all started with the leadoff single [to Corey Dickerson] and then the one breaking ball I wish I could have back," Ross said. "[Williams] put a good swing on it. A 2-0 count, a pitch to get back into the count. He timed it up perfect."

The deficit wasn't huge by any means and there was plenty of game left, but the Padres were effectively sunk.

"It's frustrating," said Padres catcher Rene Rivera. "We know how good we can be, that we can score runs."

This certainly isn't how the Padres drew this thing up in Spring Training.

The team traded Chase Headley, its highest-paid position player. Carlos Quentin landed on the disabled list and is out for the rest of the season, as is Yonder Alonso, another player the team was counting on. Everth Cabrera has been on the disabled list twice with hamstring issues.

Several other position players have underperformed from where they have in the past, such as Jedd Gyorko, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable and Yasmani Grandal.

On Sunday, the Padres started three rookies -- Cory Spangenberg, Rymer Liriano and Tommy Medica, and not just because of the expanded rosters. Players like Abraham Almonte, Yangervis Solarte, Jake Goebbert and others have received extended playing time.

This goes a long ways in explaining some of the offensive struggles.

"You look at the roster and the service time of a lot of our players and our guys are still trying to figure it out," Black said. "These are players who don't have a huge track record of at-bats. That's the situation we're in right now."

Are these players part of the Padres' future in 2015? That's what Black, new general manager A.J. Preller and others in the organization are trying to determine.

"Every day is a test of our players," Black said. "We're finding out about a lot of our players."

There was nothing perfect about the timing of this trip. The Padres were blanked 3-0 on Friday and then fell 7-6 in 12 innings on Saturday in a game that nearly lasted five hours. On Sunday, Franklin Morales -- the third lefty starter they saw in as many days -- held them to four hits over six innings.

"When you get good starting pitching, the game tends to fall right into place for you," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss. "The game just seems to be crisper."

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