SAN DIEGO -- Christian Villanueva gave San Diego an early lead on Monday night with his third homer as many games. An inning later, the Padres would, quite literally, let that lead slip through their fingers.
Villanueva, Hunter Renfroe and Jose Pirela all turned routine plays into errors, and the Dodgers took full advantage in a 10-3 victory at Petco Park. It was a sloppy showing from the Friars after an encouraging weekend in which they won three straight.
Left-hander Robbie Erlin -- given the start in place of Luis Perdomo, who was suspended for his role in last week's brawl -- didn't get much help from his defense. But his strikes were entirely too hittable, as he allowed six runs (four earned) over three innings.
"It wasn't his sharpest day," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Those plays behind him definitely don't help."
Renfroe doubled twice, and Villanueva went 3-for-4, but their shoddy defense ended up costing the Padres. Staked to a 2-1 lead in the third, Erlin opened the frame by getting Chris Taylor to bounce to third base. Villanueva attempted to backhand the chopper, but he lifted his glove a bit too high and the ball skittered into left field.
Corey Seager followed with a line drive directly at Renfroe. The Padres right fielder first broke in, then to his left, but his first move should've been back. The ball kicked off his glove, and Seager ended up at third base.
"It was topspun," Renfroe said. "I took two hard steps, and obviously it was smoked, so it just kept travelling, kept going, and I wasn't able to recover from it."
Three batters later, former Padre Matt Kemp lifted a three-run blast into the left-field seats to put the Dodgers on top, 6-2. The defense reached its nadir in the fourth, when Pirela dropped a routine pop from Seager. It was the second time in as many innings that Seager reached base on a fly ball with a 99-percent catch probability, according to Statcast™.
To be fair, Monday's game offered an odd challenge for a night game in downtown San Diego, which usually features a calm marine layer. The wind at first pitch was 16 mph out to right field, and it picked up as the game wore on.
"This isn't to nullify blame on catching a popup, because we do that at the Major League level, but this was the windiest day that I've felt out at Petco since I've been here," Green said. "It was unique the way the wind was whipping through. I'm sure that had something to do with it. We still expect him to catch it."
"For San Diego, in the middle of downtown, with all these buildings blocking [the wind], tonight was different, for sure," Renfroe said.
Villanueva's bat was the bright spot for San Diego. His six home runs are the most among all Major League rookies. He's the fifth Padres rookie to homer in three straight games. (Only Alex Dickerson, in 2016, made it four.)
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Left stranded: Renfroe and Villanueva reached base in the fourth inning as well, as the Padres mounted their only serious threat against Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu over his final four innings. Ryu -- who struck out nine and allowed three hits -- fanned consecutive lefties Franchy Cordero and Carlos Asuaje. San Diego wouldn't put another man in scoring position until the ninth.
Grandal slammed: After five hitless innings from the Padres bullpen, right-hander Kaz Makita loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth. He left an 0-2 changeup over the plate to Yasmani Grandal, who crushed it into the second row in left-center, ending the Padres hopes for a late comeback.
Makita, an offseason signing from the Seibu Lions in Japan, entered the game having allowed one run through his first six outings, but he was charged with four on Monday.
Righty reliever Adam Cimber still hasn't allowed a run since Opening Day, a stretch that reached 13 innings after three more scoreless frames Monday.
"I'm just trying to get innings right now and prove myself," Cimber said. "Any time I can get out there on the mound -- whether we're up or down -- I'm just going to get out there and attack."
Cimber has been used in just about every situation imaginable, and on Monday night he served as the Padres' long man. (Typically, it's Erlin who fills that role.)
"Cimber's been unbelievable for us, eating innings at times when we've desperately needed them," Green said. "The nice thing about him, if you look back through his Minor League track record, this is how he's been used. He's a very resilient arm."
Bryan Mitchell's brief Padres tenure has been a rocky one, as he's recorded more walks (14) than innings pitched (12 2/3). But the Padres believe in Mitchell's upside, and he'll face the Dodgers on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. PT. Alex Wood -- whose accusation that Pirela was stealing signs sparked a benches-clearing altercation last June -- starts for Los Angeles.