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Padres' problems at the plate continue in shutout

Lineup doesn't get a hit until the fifth off D-backs starter Arroyo

SAN DIEGO -- Whatever you do, Padres' right fielder Will Venable said, don't confuse effort for production.

"We're past trying hard," Venable said.

At this point, the only thing that will cure the Padres' offensive woes, are runs -- a few here, a few there and maybe, just maybe on even the rarest of occasions, a crooked number on the scoreboard.

But for now, it's zeroes and mounting frustration. This was their third shutout loss in the last six games.

The most barren offense in the Major Leagues took it on the chin Friday from a pitcher who entered the game with a 7.77 ERA, as the D-backs edged the Padres, 2-0, before a crowd of 27,032 at Petco Park.

Arizona pitcher Bronson Arroyo (2-2) allowed three hits over seven innings and a pair of relievers finished from there, as the D-backs (10-22) took the first game of a three-game set from the Padres (13-17).

The Padres didn't get a hit until one out in the fifth inning when Yonder Alonso lined a single into right field. The only other hits were a Nick Hundley pinch-hit in the sixth inning and a single by Jedd Gyorko in the seventh.

"There's not a cure-all for this … we have to go through it," said Padres manager Bud Black, speaking of an offense that entered the game last in the big leagues in runs per game (2.66).

"We're seeing guys go up there and probably pressing. We've got to relieve that tension."

Only hits, runs and wins will do, as simple as it sounds. So far, it hasn't happened much in 2014, as the team's pitching has kept it relatively afloat, though the Padres have dropped their last three games.

The Padres did have some good news before the game, as outfielder Carlos Quentin will begin a rehab stint Saturday and third baseman Chase Headley will likely do so next week. There's a chance that both players could be reinstated from the disabled list before the end of this 10-game homestand.

But will it be too late by then?

The lineup on Friday included four players hitting below .200 -- Venable (.198), Gyorko (.151), Alonso (.167) and Alexi Amarista (.172). Pitcher Andrew Cashner, hitting .200 in a small-sample size, had the four topped.

What leads Black to believe the offense will turn around?

"You look at the track record and see what their lifetime batting average is and envision they can get to that," Black said.

Cashner (2-3), as has often been the case this season, had to walk a tightrope in terms of the margin of error he had to work with.

He allowed baserunners in each of the first two innings and then yielded two hits and two walks in the third inning, the last hit a slider that Aaron Hill softly dropped into left field for two runs.

"He has got such a good fastball you have to be ready for it, obviously. He was keeping it down all night and luckily he threw me a slider that was a little bit up," Hill said. "I put a good swing on it and luckily it worked out."

And with that, the Padres were probably sunk.

"I didn't think I did a very good job with a lot of stuff tonight," said Cashner, who allowed two runs on four hits with three walks and one strikeout in six innings.

"I felt tonight I had some walks and didn't pitch ahead enough. I battled my sinker and my off-speed [stuff] has to get better," Cashner said.

Cashner retired eight of the final nine batters he faced.

No matter the outcome Friday, or with other lackluster offensive outings this season, Venable said the Padres will arrive at Petco Park on Saturday ready to move ahead, to have better at-bats, ready to get some runs.

The weight of their early-season struggles, he said, isn't weighing on them from one day to the next.

"We're professionals. We separate from yesterday … the good or the bad. Obviously, it doesn't feel good. But we're turning the page and moving on," Venable said.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter.
Read More: San Diego Padres, Andrew Cashner, Yonder Alonso