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Lucchesi chased early as Padres fall to A's

Club loses both games at home amid road-heavy stretch
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- Rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi made his long-awaited return from the disabled list on Wednesday afternoon. The A's played spoiler -- to that, and to the Padres' brief return to Petco Park this week.

San Diego returned from a tricky 10-game trip on Sunday with a renewed sense of optimism, following series victories in Miami and St. Louis. By the end of Wednesday's 12-4 defeat, that optimism was squashed courtesy of two tough losses to Oakland -- each painful in its own way.

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SAN DIEGO -- Rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi made his long-awaited return from the disabled list on Wednesday afternoon. The A's played spoiler -- to that, and to the Padres' brief return to Petco Park this week.

San Diego returned from a tricky 10-game trip on Sunday with a renewed sense of optimism, following series victories in Miami and St. Louis. By the end of Wednesday's 12-4 defeat, that optimism was squashed courtesy of two tough losses to Oakland -- each painful in its own way.

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The Padres came one strike short on Tuesday, when Stephen Piscotty turned around a Brad Hand fastball for a game-tying homer in the ninth. A day later, the A's made sure it was never that close.

Lucchesi's return from a right hip strain was short lived. He lasted 1 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, including back-to-back dingers to Franklin Barreto and Josh Phegley in the top of the second. After a promising start to his rookie campaign, Lucchesi saw his ERA balloon to 3.86.

"I felt a little bit off, maybe a little bit rusty," Lucchesi said. "... I don't want to make any excuses, but I just wasn't myself today."

Perhaps most importantly, Lucchesi never felt any pain or soreness in his hip. But he labored from the outset, needing 51 pitches to record his five outs.

"I didn't want to extend him any longer," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Sometimes you let guys fight through it. Other times you get them off the mound, let them regroup and get back out the next time. He's thrown the ball really well for us this year. It was a tough return for him, but he's going to bounce back and be just fine."

Video: OAK@SD: Green on Lucchesi, offense in loss

Left-hander Robbie Erlin entered in relief, and he, too, surrendered back-to-back homers. Mark Canha and Matt Olson took him deep in the third. It marked the first time the A's had hit consecutive homers in consecutive innings since 1997. Padres bench coach Mark McGwire and hitting coach Matt Stairs authored two of those four blasts.

Aside from the early home runs, Erlin was effective. He allowed those two earned runs while chewing up 4 1/3 relief innings and striking out four. But the offense never mounted a threat against A's starter Frankie Montas, despite some hard contact.

The Padres broke through with three runs in the ninth, including Christian Villanueva's 16th home run. He's tied for second in the National League, trailing only Washington's Bryce Harper, who has 19. By then, of course, it was too late.

Video: OAK@SD: Villanueva hammers his 16th homer of the year

In a bizarre stretch of their schedule, the Padres dropped their only two home games in a three-week span. They began that stretch 5-3 and had climbed within four games of .500 on Friday night. But they've since dropped four straight and are staring down yet another week on the road.

A two-game respite at Petco Park turned out to be anything but.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Back in action: Lucchesi's return from the DL started innocently enough. He surrendered a leadoff double to Marcus Semien, but escaped the threat with a pair of strikeouts. Even then, the A's made him work. Lucchesi needed six pitches to whiff Chad Pinder, eight pitches to get a Jed Lowrie groundout and five pitches to punch out Canha. The three of them combined to foul off four two-strike offerings in the frame.

Make 'em earn it: Oakland scored seven times in the first three innings, the first six of which came on the four home runs. The seventh run was a gift. Barreto hit a chopper in front of the plate, where Erlin fielded and threw the ball up the right-field line. It was retrieved by Cory Spangenberg, whose throw to second soared over shortstop Freddy Galvis. Barreto ended up at third, and he would score on Phegley's ensuing sacrifice fly.

SPANGENBERG TOES THE RUBBER
Earlier this month, in his first pitching appearance since high school, Spangenberg hit 88 mph with his fastball and averaged 85 mph. His arm was sore for the rest of the week.

The Padres' infielder took the mound again on Wednesday with his team trailing by nine in the ninth. He surrendered two runs, two hits and two walks, and this time he averaged 72.3 mph. That dip in velocity was a conscious decision.

"It was sore for like five days after, so I had to [dial it back]," Spangenberg said.

The 27-year-old right-hander was the closer on his high school team, but he hadn't taken the mound since -- until the June 5 appearance against Atlanta, in which he allowed one run.

"It helps the team out," Spangenberg. "When our starter doesn't go far and our bullpen has been used, somebody has to do it."

Video: OAK@SD: Spangenberg induces popup to end the frame

HE SAID IT
"Last night's game was one of those games that sting. These games today are just games that happen throughout the course of a baseball season to everybody. They're frustrating losses. But the ones yesterday are the ones you're going to hold on to. You want to win those games." -- Green

UP NEXT
Tyson Ross has been the Padres' best starting pitcher this season, and he gets the ball on Thursday when the Padres open a four-game series in San Francisco at 7:15 p.m. PT. Ross has faced the Giants twice this year, and he's pitched six innings of one-run ball both times. Opposite Ross is four-time All-Star left-hander Madison Bumgarner, making his fourth start of the season and his first against the Padres.

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

San Diego Padres, Joey Lucchesi, Cory Spangenberg