- This time, it didn't matter who was the Cubs' closer.
Kyle Blanks hit a two-run inside-the-park homer in the ninth, Adrian Gonzalez smacked his 33rd in the fifth, and Kevin Kouzmanoff added a pair of RBI singles to lift the Padres to a 6-3 victory on Tuesday over the Cubs.
Chicago dropped to 0-5 this year at PETCO Park with one game remaining. The three runs on Tuesday actually were a season-high in San Diego; the Cubs have been outscored on the Padres' turf 24-7.
Looking for positives? Derrek Lee hit his 24th homer. Alfonso Soriano notched career hit No. 1,500. Ryan Dempster had two hits, including an RBI single, and struck out a season-high 10 batters over seven innings. But nobody was smiling on the visitor's side.
"I'm ticked off," Dempster said. "I could've made better pitches. Guys put up runs early. I gave up a home run to the one guy [Gonzalez] in the lineup who you don't want to beat you. It was a first-pitch split and he hit it out.
"I felt I could've been better. You allow 11 baserunners, you're going to have a tough time winning the game."
The Cubs stranded eight, and once again, missed opportunities against Cesar Carrillo (1-1), who picked up his first Major League win in his second start.
"We had chances to score runs early in the game," Lou Piniella said, "but we've talked about that many times."
"We're all struggling right now, so whoever pitches can get you out," Soriano said. "We're not hitting like we're supposed to hit."
Soriano now is 4-for-33 in his past eight games. Geovany Soto is 4-for-29 in 10 games this month. They're not alone.
"What can you do about it?" Piniella said. "They're not trying to make outs. They're struggling. I'm sure it's no fun for them either, believe me."
"I don't know what's going on with the team," Soriano said. "We're not playing like we're supposed to play. Everybody has a lot of energy and tries to do something for the team and it's not [working]. We've got to keep positive and play one day at a time and don't worry about what happened yesterday or what happened today and try to come back tomorrow with more energy and try to win tomorrow."
They definitely can't worry about the Cardinals, who also lost Tuesday, but have a six-game lead in the National League Central. St. Louis is 9-3 in the past 12 games. Chicago is 3-9.
"We're all right," Dempster said. "We're a bunch of big boys. We wouldn't be here if we weren't. We've just got to keep fighting and worry about our own business and not worry about what other teams are doing. ... You've got to keep your nose to the grind and keep playing hard. Things can swing in a hurry if you keep that attitude."
Before the game, Piniella named Carlos Marmol as the closer, replacing Kevin Gregg, who served up four runs in the ninth Monday. That news came after Piniella was issued a warning for jaywalking in the trendy Gaslamp District. It's been that kind of year.
Lee homered with two outs in the first, but the Padres tied it in their half on Kouzmanoff's two-out RBI single. San Diego added two more in the third, and Dempster hit an RBI single with two outs in the fourth to drive in Jeff Baker, who had doubled. It was Dempster's second hit of the game, and he now has three career two-hit games, all against the Padres.
Carrillo intentionally walked Kosuke Fukudome with two outs and a runner at second in the fifth to face Soriano, who blooped a single to left to tie the game at 3. It was Soriano's 1,500th career hit. But Gonzalez launched the first pitch from Dempster in the fifth to right.
Angel Guzman walked Will Venable to start the Padres' ninth and Blanks drove the ball to center. It richocheted off the wall along the warning track toward right. Blanks didn't hesitate. The outfielder, who hit a three-run homer in the ninth on Monday night in San Diego's 4-1 win, notched the first inside-the-park homer against the Cubs since Dave Roberts did so Aug. 9, 2003, off Matt Clement.
"That thing was in no-man's land out there," Piniella said. "The ball was hit a little toward the left of center to boot. I don't think [right fielder Milton] Bradley or anybody could've done anything about that. The kid runs pretty good for a big guy."
Now, if the Cubs could figure out a way to score here, they might get over the collective hitting funk. They're batting .242 on the road, compared to .268 at home.
"We're struggling at home plate," Soriano said. "That's the key."