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Lucchesi struggles in last '18 meeting with LA

Rookie chased in fourth inning, while offense shut down
September 23, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- On the whole, it's been a positive rookie campaign for Joey Lucchesi. The left-hander was promoted to the big leagues well ahead of schedule, and he's been the Padres' best starting pitcher this year.But barring a turnaround in his final start next weekend, Lucchesi is going to

LOS ANGELES -- On the whole, it's been a positive rookie campaign for Joey Lucchesi. The left-hander was promoted to the big leagues well ahead of schedule, and he's been the Padres' best starting pitcher this year.
But barring a turnaround in his final start next weekend, Lucchesi is going to enter the offseason with an awfully sour taste in his mouth.
He turned in his worst start of the year on Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, allowing seven runs over 3 2/3 innings. The offense offered little in the way of resistance, and the Padres dropped the series finale, 14-0, their largest shutout loss since last Sept. 16 in Colorado.
In the bottom of the first, Lucchesi came out of the gate with three consecutive strikeouts. Things spiraled quickly from there. He threw breaking balls right down the middle to Manny Machado and Matt Kemp in the second inning, and both pitches turned into solo homers.
"Bad location, and they took advantage of it," Lucchesi said.
In the fourth, Lucchesi allowed five of seven hitters to reach base, and all five would score, including two on a home run by Austin Barnes.
"That fourth was uncharacteristic of him," manager Andy Green said. "Throughout the year, he's been really good for us at minimizing damage and giving us an opportunity to win games."

That's been Lucchesi's best trait. Even when he's labored, it's been rare for the Padres to find themselves truly out of a ballgame started by Lucchesi. Sunday was that rare day.
"It'll just give me experience," Lucchesi said. "I'll remember this. I'll keep studying, keep getting better."
More than anything, Lucchesi struggled to command his best pitch -- a changeup/curveball hybrid -- on Sunday. He bounced a handful in the dirt, and left several over the plate, including the two to Machado and Kemp.
When his "churve" isn't working, Lucchesi doesn't have a proven fallback plan. He's sporadically thrown a curveball this season, and he plans to keep honing it this winter. He'd also like to add another breaking pitch.
"I want to try to learn a cutter or a slider," Lucchesi said. "I'll work with [pitching coach Darren Balsley]. I know this is not the best me. I'm still working on myself. I'm going to get better."
Next weekend, Lucchesi will face the D-backs in his final start of the season -- a season in which he was promoted on the second day because of an injury to Dinelson Lamet. Lucchesi has given the Padres plenty to be optimistic about. But his performance Sunday offered a reminder: He still has a long way to go.
"He had a rough one today that skews the numbers for him on the season," Green said. "But he's given us opportunity after opportunity to win baseball games. We're pleased with where he is. There will always be a next step for everyone. He's going to continue to grow."
SOUND SMART
Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu went 3-for-3 on Sunday, becoming the first pitcher with three hits against the Padres since the Cardinals' Jake Westbrook in 2013. He's the second Dodger to do so, joining Jerry Reuss, who accomplished the feat in 1983 -- in a game that was called due to rain in the 14th inning and finished in a 4-4 tie.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
All season long, Freddy Galvis has dazzled with his glove. He did so again on Sunday afternoon. With Lucchesi grinding through a laborious fourth inning, Galvis kept a run off the board with an excellent diving stop on a ball to his left. From one knee, Galvis spun and fired accurately to first base for the first out of the frame.

HE SAID IT
"We're not close -- and that's how you have to look at it right now -- from beating them on a consistent basis. We can beat them on one given night if we do everything in the lineup correctly. But to be able to beat them consistently, we've got some work to do." -- Green, on catching the Dodgers in the NL West
UP NEXT
Bryan Mitchell is running out of time to stake his claim for a spot in the 2019 rotation. He gets the ball for Monday's series opener in San Francisco, opposite left-hander Derek Holland at 7:15 p.m. PT. It's expected to be his final start of a rough '18 campaign in which he struggled early, then missed three months with a right elbow impingement. He's been better since his return, having posted a 3.38 ERA in three outings.

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