Homers continue to haunt Street, spoiling strong start
Closer allows back-to-back blasts in ninth after Cashner dazzles in eight
SAN DIEGO -- Padres manager Bud Black described it as a bit of a "home run spell" that his closer, Huston Street, is enduring throughout this season.
Street has allowed 10 homers through his first 26 1/3 innings this season, matching his career high set in 2011. It took him 58 1/3 innings to do so then, and he was pitching for the Rockies at Coors Field.
He was tagged again by the long ball Sunday, surrendering back-to-back home runs in the ninth inning of a tied game, as the Padres fell to the Dodgers, 3-1, in front of 31,098 at Petco Park.
The game was tied at 1 when Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez both launched homers to right field, the first time the Dodgers have gone back-to-back all season.
"The pitch to Hanley was little bit off the plate, and probably a ball if he didn't hit it," Street said. "Good hitters like him can spoil pitches, even if they're not over the plate.
"When you get beat at this level, most of the time, it's lack of execution. My four losses this year, lack of execution."
What's puzzling about Street is that he has converted 15 out of 16 save situations this season, but is 0-4 with a 4.78 ERA. When he's been hit, the ball keeps going over the fence.
"When he hits his spots, he gets his outs," Black said. "This year at times, [his control], it's been spotty."
The loss spoiled an excellent performance by Padres starter Andrew Cashner. In his first career start at the Dodgers, he delivered one of his best outings of the season, inducing 19 groundouts with effective use of his sinker through eight innings (equaling a career-high), as he surrendered one run on five hits.
"We like what we're seeing," Black said. "He's growing as a pitcher and it's great to see. I think his confidence grows each time he goes out and has games like today."
Cashner seems to be developing into the top-of-the-rotation guy the Padres envisioned when they traded for him in January 2012. He logged his fourth consecutive quality start and his eighth of the season. Cashner has a 1-0 record with a 2.73 ERA, 17 strikeouts and five walks over his past four starts.
"The biggest thing is just learning when to throw pitches and when not to throw pitches," Cashner said. "I've been working on a slider, threw a curveball a lot tonight ... the sinker's getting better and better every time out."
Neither team could muster any offense until the Dodgers broke a scoreless tie with a pair of doubles in the seventh. Gonzalez pulled a leadoff double to right field and scored on a double down the first-base line by Juan Uribe to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.
Gonzalez, who also homered on Saturday, continued to punish his former team. He owns a lifetime .382 average against the Padres, the best among active players.
His hot weekend at the plate comes with the increasingly improving Ramirez, who also homered for the second straight game against the Padres. In his last five games, he is hitting .500 with three home runs, two doubles and seven RBIs.
"I hope we're saving the best for last," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.
The Dodgers also got a solid outing from starter Chris Capuano, who was pitching on three days' rest. Capuano threw five scoreless innings and struck out five -- including his 1,000th career strikeout in the fourth inning.
"He's working the outside part of the plate and we couldn't get to him," Black said.
The Padres scored their only run in the seventh, when Carlos Quentin hit a solo home run off reliever Peter Moylan to tie the game at 1.
The Padres (38-38) dropped the final two games against the Dodgers (32-42), after taking the first two of this four-game series. It sends them back to fourth place in the National League West, and they now trail the D-backs by 3 1/2 games in the division. San Diego begins a three-game series with the Phillies on Monday.