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Lauer roughed up; Padres drop another to Cards

Lefty gives up four homers, six runs in 2 1/3 innings
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- Eric Lauer arrived in San Diego well ahead of schedule. The Padres had an open place in their starting rotation last month, and they were eager to see what the 22-year-old left-hander had to offer against big league hitters. If there were going to be growing pains, they were fine with that.

Boy, have there been growing pains.

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SAN DIEGO -- Eric Lauer arrived in San Diego well ahead of schedule. The Padres had an open place in their starting rotation last month, and they were eager to see what the 22-year-old left-hander had to offer against big league hitters. If there were going to be growing pains, they were fine with that.

Boy, have there been growing pains.

View Full Game Coverage

In his Petco Park debut, Lauer was pounded for four homers over 2 1/3 innings in a 9-5 loss to St. Louis on Friday night. He allowed six runs on seven hits and didn't record a strikeout.

The Cardinals jumped on top in the second when Paul DeJong swatted a three-run homer. An inning later they tacked on three dingers in a four-batter span to take a 6-0 lead.

In short: Lauer fooled no one with a fastball that averaged 89 mph and offspeed pitches that were squared up too often. His dip in velocity wasn't particularly well-timed. Generally, Lauer makes his low-90s heater work by compensating with pinpoint command. That went missing in a big way on Friday.

"Everything was middle," Padres manager Andy Green said. "... It's one of those [games] he's got to learn from, move forward from."

Video: STL@SD: Green on loss, Lauer's outing

Travis Jankowski and Jose Pirela pounded out three hits apiece for the Padres, who tacked on five late runs to make the scoreline respectable. Jankowski's big night was the latest in an impressive week since he was moved into the leadoff spot.

At the top of the order this year, Jankowski is 9-for-26 with four walks and three extra-base hits -- including his first homer of the season in the ninth inning Friday.

"It's fun to be a table-setter, being patiently aggressive early and getting on base," Jankowski said. "Honestly, it's fun hitting in front of [Eric Hosmer], man. If I get on base, good things are going to happen."

Video: STL@SD: Jankowski belts his first homer of the season

As for Lauer, the rough start to his big league tenure was perhaps to be expected. He's less than two years removed from being selected in the first round of the 2016 Draft.

Among that class, Lauer was the second pitcher to reach the Majors. Only teammate Joey Lucchesi arrived faster -- and Lauer, who is two years younger, was nowhere near as polished.

"He's young, but very even-keel," Green said. "I don't think he's going to be rattled by a rough outing or two. ... He's definitely got some work out in front of him. We're going to meet it head on and watch him rise up and do it."

Indeed, there's plenty of development still ahead of Lauer. He'll need to bounce back in a big way, or that development could soon be relocated to Triple-A El Paso.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gyorko stays hot vs. Padres: Jedd Gyorko didn't receive an at-bat in Thursday's series opener. He wasted no time continuing his mastery of the Padres on Friday night. Gyorko smacked a one-out single in the second, setting up DeJong's homer. He'd add a homer of his own in the third and another single in the fifth.

Video: STL@SD: Gyorko goes back-to-back with Ozuna

"We didn't make any good pitches [to him] today," Green said.

Since the Padres traded Gyorko to the Cardinals after the 2015 season, he's 21-for-40 with eight homers against his former club.

Mitchell saves the 'pen: Bryan Mitchell averaged less than five innings per start before he was moved to the San Diego bullpen earlier this week. He gave the Padres 5 2/3 frames of much-needed relief after Lauer was roughed up. Mitchell allowed three runs and six hits, but he worked quickly and mostly avoided hard contact in his first appearance out of the Padres bullpen.

"I liked my tempo," Mitchell said. "I just tried to quicken up everything and attack."

VILLANUEVA'S SLUMP LENGTHENS
Christian Villanueva won the National League Rookie of the Month Award in April. Safe to assume he's not going to repeat.

With four empty at-bats on Friday, the Padres third baseman has fallen into an 0-for-33 rut. It's the longest hitless drought by a rookie position player in franchise history.

"He's pressing," Green said. "You see it time and time again when you tell someone don't press, it becomes natural to press. … He's a young guy, rookie season in the big leagues, had a really great first month. Now he's learning and growing." 

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the midst of the Cardinals' three-homer third, Jankowski turned in a defensive gem to prevent further damage. The speedy right fielder made a brilliant sliding grab at the foul line to rob Jose Martinez. According to Statcast™, Jankowski covered 100 feet in 5.1 seconds on the play, making it a four-star catch with a 35 percent catch probability. His sprint speed of 31.0 ft/sec qualifies as one of the best in baseball this year.

Video: STL@SD: Jankowski slides for a tough catch in right

HE SAID IT
"The test of him as a Major Leaguer is how he bounces back from days like this." -- Green on Lauer

UP NEXT
Veteran right-hander Tyson Ross is looking for a bounce-back effort Saturday when the Padres host the Cards at 5:40 p.m. PT. Right-hander Michael Wacha goes for St. Louis. Before the game, Kevin Towers, the club's longtime GM who passed away in January, will be feted with induction into the Padres Hall of Fame.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

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