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Clock already ticking on Padres' season

Offense, defense letting Friars down

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Are the Padres rapidly approaching a point of urgency?

Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Dodgers at Los Angeles dropped the Padres to three games under .500 for the first time this season -- and also into fourth place in the National League West for the first time this season.

Friday's loss was the Padres third straight and their sixth in their last seven games. Over those seven games, the Padres have scored 13 runs on 41 hits and been shut out twice. They have been shut out five times this month.

After a 10-5 start, the Padres have gone 10-18.

All is not lost. At 20-23, the Padres are only four games outside the second Wild Card berth, although they have slipped to six games behind the division-leading Dodgers and 4 1/2 games behind the reigning World Series champion Giants.

But say it will take 90 wins to reach the playoffs. In 2010, the last time the Padres came close, it took 91 -- and they missed by a game.

If it takes a 90-72 record to make the 2015 playoffs, the Padres would have to go 70-49 between now and the end of the season. That is a .588 winning percentage. Only once before in Padres' history -- the 98-64 season of 1998 -- have the Padres played to a higher winning percentage for an entire season.

The schedule will be getting a little easier down the road. Twenty-eight of the Padres first 43 games were against teams with winning records. But not immediately. Their next 12 games also figure to be against teams with winning records.

From the scorebook:

Andrew Cashner can't catch a break. The right-handed starter allowed one unearned run on five hits and a walk over six innings Friday night in Los Angeles. The good news is Cashner didn't get the loss. He remains 1-7 despite a 2.89 ERA. Since 1930, only four Major League pitchers have had a 1-7 record with a lower ERA. Errors have led to a Major League-leading 12 unearned runs charged to Cashner in nine starts. And he is working with the fourth-lowest, run-support average. Over 39 innings in his last six starts, the Padres have scored only three runs when Cashner has been on the mound.

• The Padres have had four straight quality starts for only the second time this season (they had seven straight from April 10-17, although the Padres were also charged with five unearned runs during that streak). The Padres have 28 quality starts, the highest total in the Major Leagues this season.

• Right-handed reliever Brandon Maurer threw a perfect inning Friday night. He has now made 10 straight scoreless appearances in May covering 11 innings. Over those 11 innings, Maurer has given up four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. During the scoreless inning streak, Maurer's ERA has fallen from 4.50 at the start of May to 2.14.

• Center fielder Will Venable was 2-for-4 Friday night with a run-scoring double. He also committed his first error of the season, which led to the lone run charged against Cashner. Venable is 13-for-34 (.382) since May 8 with a double, a triple, his third homer of the season and four RBIs.

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