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Loss to Marlins magnifies Padres' early struggles

Stults stumbles out of the gate and offense does little to bail him out

MIAMI -- Chris Denorfia was surprised as anyone Friday night when his sliding attempt at a catch of a ball near the right-field line popped out of his glove just as quickly as it went in.

The way things are going for the Padres, maybe he shouldn't have been.

That ball, hit by Adeiny Hechavarria, was ruled a double and started a three-run third inning that paved the way for the Marlins' 8-2 victory over the Padres before a crowd of 17,783 at Marlins Park.

"I had a long way to go and with the spin of the ball, it sort of came back toward the field. I misjudged it and was too aggressive on the slide," said Denorfia, the team's right fielder.

After coming back to win Opening Day against the Dodgers, the Padres have lost their last three games.

While the Denorfia play didn't singularly torpedo the Padres chances of opening this six-game road trip with a victory, it certainly didn't help, as San Diego slipped to 1-3 on the young season.

"We're playing with no margin for error right now," Denorfia said. "That's not good. Good teams find a way to pick guys up. We've got to do a better job of doing that."

At this point, small sample size aside, the Padres need to do a better job in several areas, like starting pitching. Eric Stults lasted just four innings, allowing five runs. The offense failed to capitalize on a bases-loaded, one-out opportunity in the fifth inning. The bullpen allowed three runs.

"I hope we can get some guys going," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Our offense is a little stagnant."

San Diego starting pitchers have now worked six, five, five and four innings in the first four games of the season. That has led to a lot of work for the bullpen.

"This can't happen as we move forward," Black said. "It's important for our starting pitchers to work a little deeper in games."

Four games certainly don't make a season. Heck, four games doesn't even make a week, but the Padres are well aware that another slow start -- see 9-20 in 2012 and 5-15 last season -- can't occur again if this team wants to stay afloat in the National League West.

In the first inning of games this season, the Padres have been outscored 7-0.

"It's four games, we've got to continue to play," said Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso, who drove in the first run with a sixth-inning double.

Jedd Gyorko, who had his first two hits of the season, including an RBI single in that sixth inning, thinks there are good performances coming soon for the offense.

"We had some pretty good at-bats, we had a lot of hard-hit balls right at them," Gyorko said. "[Chase Headley] squared-up two balls. Hopefully, they'll start falling in."

They certainly have for the surging Marlins, who improved to 4-1 with the victory. They had 13 hits, four of which went for extra bases, including Giancarlo Stanton's 458-foot home run in the first inning, a ball last seen spinning toward the Atlantic Ocean.

"When you start a series off with an inning like that, you come out and put a couple of runs on the board early, that's obviously a big relief for [starting pitcher] Tom Koehler and everybody," said Marlins manager Mike Redmond.

After opening the game with four scoreless innings, Koehler (1-0) loaded the bases with one out in the fifth inning on singles by Gyorko, Denorfia and Yasmani Grandal, who finished with two hits. The Padres, down 5-0, had a chance to get back in the game.

But Koehler got pinch-hitter Tommy Medica to pop out. Everth Cabrera then grounded out to end the inning.

"We needed a big hit there," Black said. "We get a base hit, it's 5-2 at least and the inning is still going."

In the end, though, the Padres were left to ponder another loss. What they need to do to reverse the losing has become painfully obvious.

"Every manager and every organization wants to get off to a fast start," Black said. "Things are really magnified early in the year. We have to hit the ball better and pitch better."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter.
Read More: San Diego Padres, Everth Cabrera, Eric Stults, Yasmani Grandal, Jedd Gyorko, Tommy Medica, Seth Smith, Yonder Alonso