The Padres take the field during pre-game introductions before Game 1 of their wild-card series with the St. Louis Cardinals. L-R: Wil Myers, Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer. Photo credit: Screenshot, @padres, via Twitter

The San Diego Padres took a hit before the game even started, then saw mistakes add salt to the wound, as they fell 7-4 to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of their wild-card series.

That makes Thursday’s game a must-win if the Padres are to force a decisive Game 3 and keep their hopes alive for a long post-season run.

Zach Davies, (7-4), will face the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, (5-3) in the 4 p.m. start.

Though Manager Jayce Tingler expressed confidence in Game 1 starter Chris Paddack, the Cardinals hit him hard and quickly.

He gave up three extra-base hits in the first inning, including a two-run shot to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, to leave the Padres trailing by 4-0.

Paddack moved quickly through the second, but gave up two more runs in the third before Tingler turned to the bullpen.

With the Cards attacking, Tingler said, Paddack “never got a chance or the ability to settle in.”

The Padres had resorted to Paddack in the absence of starters Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet. Before the game though, the team announced that they will not be available at all during the series as they were off the playoff roster for the wild-card round.

General manager A.J. Preller told MLB.com he based the decision not just on the short term, but also future needs.

“We’ll take the weekend and re-evaluate where they’re at if we’re able to advance to the next round,” he said.

In the meantime, the Padres had to keep on tapping the bullpen, as the Cardinals kept knocking at the door to pad their lead. Six Friar six relievers, including Matt Strahm, Craig Stammen and Drew Pomeranz, held the Cards scoreless, though the Red Birds kept knocking on the door.

They did the “best they could at keeping us in the game,” Tingler said. “We dug just a little too much of a hole. We couldn’t get out.”

They began climbing their way back though with runs in the bottom of the first and second, but left men on too. Worse, they twice ran themselves out of innings.

They threatened seriously in the sixth and the eighth. Each time, Jake Cronenworth was on base and each time the rookie committed himself with the ball in play, giving the Cardinals the opportunity to stall Padre rallies.

After an Austin Nola sacrifice fly in the sixth to score Tommy Pham and make the score 6-4, Goldschmidt cut off the throw from Dexter Fowler in right to take down Cronenworth at third.

In the eighth, Cronenworth took too big a lead off third as Trent Grisham attempted to leg out a ball fielded by Goldschmidt. In the ensuing rundown, Cronenworth retreated to third, as Jurickson Profar also took the base. After Yadier Molina tagged them both, the umpire called Profar out.

“You can make a play on defense that will win the game,” Goldschmidt told ESPN. “It’s something we take a lot of pride in.”

Both teams had their chances. While the Padres left nine on base, the Cardinals left even more, 12. Fernando Tatis Jr., with one hit in four at-bats, left five of those runners on. Cardinal Harrison Bader, who struck out five times, left six.

Aware of the missteps and lost opportunities, Tingler said his team must “wash this off, now that our our backs are against the wall.”

On Thursday, he added, “Let’s find out who we are.”

NL Wild-Card Game 2, Cardinals vs. Padres, live from Petco Park, airs on ESPN at 4 p.m. Thursday

– Staff reports

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