PHOENIX -- Padres rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi let one mistake dictate the rest of an inning. It became the fatal blow in Sunday's 4-2 loss to the D-backs at Chase Field.With one out in the fourth inning, Lucchesi walked Paul Goldschmidt before A.J. Pollock singled. Pollock took off for second
PHOENIX -- Padres rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi let one mistake dictate the rest of an inning. It became the fatal blow in Sunday's 4-2 loss to the D-backs at Chase Field.
With one out in the fourth inning, Lucchesi walked Paul Goldschmidt before A.J. Pollock singled. Pollock took off for second base moments later, and though Lucchesi realized it, he sailed the pickoff attempt over first baseman Eric Hosmer's head, allowing Goldschmidt to score.
"I had a changeup grip and I realized he was running by the way he was leaning, and I realized it midway when my leg was up and I just threw it like that," Lucchesi said. "I thought if I just softly threw it, it'd be fine, but I just threw it really bad."
Had he regrouped, that could've marked the end of the damage.
But on the very next pitch, Nick Ahmed took Lucchesi deep to left field. The pitch Ahmed hit out was one of Lucchesi's "churves," which are a mix of the changeup and curveball.
Perhaps still shaken, Lucchesi walked the next batter, Deven Marrero. Marrero stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and scored when Lucchesi gave up a single to Patrick Corbin, the opposing pitcher. It could have been a scoreless game with two outs in the inning.
"He's got him picked off, he's got the opportunity to have him picked off at second base there," Padres manager Andy Green. "Hosmer is about as good as anybody in the game at coming off the bag and firing a bullet to second base to get Pollock. I think if he gets him there, it's a different inning."
Instead, it was 4-0 D-backs.
"If I didn't throw that ball away, it's like two outs, then I focus up and strike out that dude, and it would've been fine," Lucchesi said. "Just a little focus problem right there."
Unfortunately for Lucchesi, his teammates couldn't pick him up. The Padres mustered just three hits in the loss, along with striking out 15 times. Lucchesi didn't have his best command, though. He issued four walks, which allowed the D-backs to drive up his pitch count and get a longer look at his stuff.
And he let a mistake stay in his head much longer than it should have.
"He's had better obviously," Green said of Lucchesi's outing. "We got a ton of confidence in Joey and expect him to be really good for us for a long period of time."
But on Sunday, a brief lapse of focus allowed an error to become a four-run inning.
"I kind of let it get to my head when I shouldn't have because I could've gotten out of that with minimal damage," Lucchesi said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Villanueva lifts off: With two outs in the sixth inning, William Myers struck out on a wild pitch, but managed to reach first base. The next batter, Christian Villanueva, blasted a two-run home run. The Padres struggled mightily at the plate on Sunday, but Villanueva's homer gave them a chance to perhaps make a comeback.
"He continues to have great at-bats for us. He hits balls hard, the opposite-field home run, the double down the line. He's hitting breaking balls, he's hitting fastballs. He's doing a heck of a job, it's fun to watch that," Green said.
Ahmed flashes leather: Myers stepped up to the plate to lead off the ninth inning with the Padres down two runs. He hit a hard grounder to shortstop, but Ahmed made a great diving stop and quickly threw out Myers at first.
The play loomed large as the next batter, Villanueva, doubled down the left-field line.
"If that ball gets through, and you have a double down the line for the next guy, you got the heart of your order coming up and it's a one-run ballgame," Green said. "That's why big defensive plays change the complexion of ballgames."
HE SAID IT
"It's tough, because from a team standpoint, you want to be a guy to break the team [slump] up and get the big hit to loosen everybody up. Individually, it's the same battle. You want to get the hit to feel good and gain some ground in the box. Right now, it's just not happening. We got to continue to put the work in and trust it, and hope it turns." -- Hosmer, on the Padres' struggles at the plate
The Padres will visit the Colorado Rockies for a three-game series, beginning at 5:40 PT on Monday night. The matchup has been heated this season and frustrations came to a head when the two clubs brawled in the final game of the last set they played. Bryan Mitchell will take the mound for the Padres. Through 19 2/3 innings over four starts, he's walked 17 batters. The Padres will face Rockies righty Chad Bettis, who has given up just one run in his last two starts.
Justin Toscano is an associate reporter for MLB.com.