'As tough as it gets': Padres' skid hits six after walk-off

July 1st, 2023

CINCINNATI -- The Padres had a pregame team meeting before Friday's game to turn the page on the first 81 games of the season.

"The first half is over," manager Bob Melvin said. "We've got to have a different second half. I think more than anything, you've got to put that stuff away. What comes first, confidence or success? We have plenty of guys who have had success.

"That's part of the focus: The only game that matters is today's game. Don't get bogged down in yesterday's game or the day before. Just go out and try to concentrate on that particular game or that at-bat."

The second half of games started the same way the first half ended. The Padres fell to the Reds, 7-5, in 11 innings at Great American Ball Park for a season-high sixth straight loss. They've scored a total of 12 runs in the six games.

San Diego scored in the ninth, 10th and 11th -- only to see Reds rookie Spencer Steer hit a two-run walk-off home run.

"We felt like we had it in our grasp a couple of times," Melvin said. "We've had some rough ones here lately. That's as tough as it gets right there. We were one pitch away from winning the game.

"You've got to find some positives. There were [some] today. We did the little things much better today. You don't want silver linings where we are right now."

Nick Martinez entered the game with one out in the seventh and ended up pitching 1 2/3 innings. Faced with preserving a tie in the bottom of the ninth, Melvin brought out closer Josh Hader. That left rookies Ray Kerr and Drew Carlton to pitch the 10th and 11th.

"The state of our bullpen now, they're going to have to pitch some games," Melvin said. "The last thing I wanted to do was bring Nick in that game [in the ninth].

"These guys are getting some experience in the big leagues in spots they haven't been before. They performed well. We just came up a little short."

The loss came after right-hander Seth Lugo had arguably his best start of the season. He went six innings and allowed an unearned run on five hits. He struck out six and walked none on 94 pitches. This was his second start after missing a month with a right calf strain.

"We've brought him along incrementally, starting with 65 [pitches]," Melvin said. "Ninety was all we were looking at today,"

The Padres' offense had little going against Reds starter Graham Ashcraft, who came in with a 3-6 record and a 7.17 ERA. Ashcraft was 1-6 with a 12.82 ERA over his past eight starts entering Friday. Trent Grisham's solo homer in the sixth was all San Diego got off him.

The Reds took a 2-1 lead in the seventh when Tyler Stephenson homered off Brent Honeywell, and Martinez came in the game after Will Benson singled. Martinez picked off Benson to end the inning and limit the damage.

The Padres tied it in the ninth on Matt Carpenter's sacrifice fly, then played small ball in the 10th. Trent Grisham hit a sac bunt to move to third automatic runner Rougned Odor. Fernando Tatis Jr. singled to bring home Odor, and Juan Soto followed with a double to make it 4-2.

But Reds rookie Matt McLain tied it with his seventh home run -- a line drive to center off Ray Kerr.

The Padres retook the lead in the 11th when Gary Sánchez singled in Xander Bogaerts. But Elly De La Cruz hit an RBI double in the bottom of the frame. He was called out trying to score, and the call was confirmed after review. The next hitter, Steer, hit a no-doubter to left to win it.