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Padres fall despite strong outing from Lucchesi

Special to MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Despite an impressive second start from rookie starter Joey Lucchesi, the Padres capped a tough week by falling to the Rockies, 3-1, on Thursday afternoon.

After five scoreless innings from Lucchesi in his second big league start, closer Brad Hand encountered his second shaky outing of the year. Hand, who previously allowed five runs (four earned) last Friday, walked Trevor Story and Chris Iannetta to open the ninth before second baseman Carlos Asuaje committed an error. Hand gave Ryan McMahon a free pass to force in the go-ahead run, and DJ LeMahieu followed with a two-run single.

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SAN DIEGO -- Despite an impressive second start from rookie starter Joey Lucchesi, the Padres capped a tough week by falling to the Rockies, 3-1, on Thursday afternoon.

After five scoreless innings from Lucchesi in his second big league start, closer Brad Hand encountered his second shaky outing of the year. Hand, who previously allowed five runs (four earned) last Friday, walked Trevor Story and Chris Iannetta to open the ninth before second baseman Carlos Asuaje committed an error. Hand gave Ryan McMahon a free pass to force in the go-ahead run, and DJ LeMahieu followed with a two-run single.

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"It just seems like things aren't going my way right now, and I have to turn it around," said Hand, who suffered his second loss in four appearances. "The walks came back to hurt me -- three walks in an inning is never good."

Meanwhile Lucchesi was sensational. He retired the final 10 batters he faced and finished with one hit and three walks. He had seven strikeouts, six days after a debut in which he allowed three runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.

"I didn't have as much nerves as the first game," said Lucchesi, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Padres' No. 9 prospect. "I just told myself to go out there and be myself."

The Padres lost six of their seven games in the season-opening homestand and are hoping a road trip to Houston can transform their luck. Shaky starting pitching -- Thursday not included -- a lack of production at the plate and the back end of a bullpen that is struggling has the San Diego nestled in the NL West cellar.

Their margin of error is so slim, that when Asuaje dropped Christian Villanueva's ninth-inning throw on Gerardo Parra's bunt, the Padres were sunk.

"If we pick up that bunt and throw the guy out at first base, then none of those runs score," manager Andy Green said. "That's part of the equation right there. But, you have to score runs if you want to win, and you have to score more than one. We didn't do that today."

The Padres averted the shutout when Manuel Margot led off the ninth inning with his first home run of the season and his first hit in four games.

Video: COL@SD: Margot blasts first homer of the season

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Head back to the dugout: Chase Headley had a chance to put the Padres ahead in the fifth as a pinch-hitter for Lucchesi. After Galvis and Asuaje produced the Padres' first consecutive hits of the game with one out, Headley took a called third strike -- after Austin Hedges fanned -- to halt the rally.

Running on empty: The Padres ran themselves out of the seventh when Hunter Renfroe was easily cut down by Parra when trying to advance from first to third on Freddy Galvis' one-out single to right field. Then Galvis was erased on Iannetta's pinpoint throw as he attempted to steal second.

Video: COL@SD: Parra throws out Renfroe at third in the 7th

Infield tight, hitter's delight: That's what LeMahieu thought when he smoked a grounder to shortstop Galvis in the top of the eighth. But Galvis made a diving stop, held Charlie Blackmon at third, and retired LeMahieu at first.

Video: COL@SD: Galvis saves first run with a diving stop

QUOTABLE
"We played a bad baseball game today. Outside of what Joey Lucchesi and what Craig Stammen did, we played a bad baseball game." -- Green, as the Padres allowed three unearned runs in the ninth inning to lose their second straight series.

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Thursday's attendance was 20,509, or roughly what the Chargers averaged at their 2017 home games in their first year of playing in Los Angeles after 56 seasons in San Diego.

WHAT'S NEXT
Luis Perdomo will try to rebound from his troubling first start of the season when he leads the visiting Padres against the world champion Houston Astros on Friday at 5:10 p.m PT. The right-handed Perdomo allowed five runs on seven hits in four innings in his season debut against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday. He struck out seven, but he needs a strong performance to solidify his rotation spot.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Diego Padres