The first-place Padres face Chicago Monday after dropping the closing game 7-4 in their weekend series with the Houston Astros.
Houston got to starter Blake Snell early. He gave up seven runs in just three innings of work, as his ERA swelled to 5.55.
Joe Musgrove, normally a starter, came in and settled things down with five scoreless – and hitless – innings, but the Padres managed just one run off Astro starter Zack Greinke over eight innings.
They got to reliever Andre Scrubb in the 9th inning though, scoring three runs on two homers, by Wil Myers and Ha-Seong Kim, but it wasn’t enough.
Greinke improved to 5-2, while Snell fell to 1-2.
The loss followed four straight games in which the Padres have gone to extra innings, against both the Milwaukee Brewers and the Astros. They won three of those games, but at a cost as as evidenced by Musgrove stepping in Sunday – a severely taxed bullpen.
Even the reliable Mark Melancon, who still leads baseball in saves, showed he’s human, blowing two in a row Friday and Saturday.
Yet the offense stepped up against a shaky Astro bullpen. In Saturday’s 11-8 win, the Friars scored 10 runs from the 8th inning on – including Fernando Tatis Jr’s. game-tying homer in the 9th and Myers’ game winner in the 12th. They exploded for seven runs in the 11th the night before for a 10-3 win.
“These have been five-hour games,” manager Jayce Tingler told MLB.com. “These have been long, grueling, knockout fights.”
The Padres begin their three-game series in Chicago with Chris Paddack on the mound at 11:20 a.m. Monday. Ryan Weathers and Dinelson Lamet follow Tuesday and Wednesday.
But it’s no rest for the weary, as the team concludes their 10-game road trip and immediately heads back to Petco Park. They begin a seven-game home stand Thursday against the New York Mets.