Late runs off bullpen seal Padres' loss

Late runs off 'pen seal Padres' loss

SAN DIEGO -- As recently as last season at this time, Woody Williams was having the time of his professional life, winning nine of his last 12 decisions for a Cardinals team on its merry way to a World Series.

About the only parallel in 2005 is that he's still performing for a first-place team.

There is not much in the 61-63 Padres at the moment to suggest the runaway 105-57 2004 Cardinals, who flattened the Dodgers and Astros in the playoffs before running into the Red Sox machine in a brief World Series encounter.

"We're trying to win a division here," Williams said following a 6-2 loss to Roy Oswalt and the Astros on Monday night at PETCO Park. "And [in] games like this, it seems like it's no big deal to anybody.

"We're playing a good team -- and we're a good team. Sometimes it seems like it's a daze. We just need to get to a point where we're winning a lot of ballgames and playing good, consistent baseball.

"We can't coast. We haven't done anything. We haven't accomplished anything. I can't speak for anyone else, but winning ballgames in August and September is huge. This thing should not go down to the last week. We've got to make it uncomfortable for other teams."

At 6-10, a far cry from his 103-84 career record coming into the season, he's tired of losing. Williams' immediate frustration was centered on events of the fourth inning in the first game of a nine-game homestand, when a 2-0 lead became a 3-2 deficit.

A loud triple to right center by Jason Lane and equally loud double to left center by Chris Burke were followed by a single by Adam Everett off the glove of first baseman Xavier Nady, diving to his right. That scored a second run, and the third was delivered when Willy Taveras poked a two-out single to left.

Williams left after six innings, and the Padres expired quietly after a last rally in the sixth ended with pinch-hitter Robert Fick bounced out with the bases loaded.

The Astros added two in the seventh against Rudy Seanez and another run in the ninth against Chris Hammond, Lance Berkman driving in all three with a two-run homer and a double in the ninth, his second of the game.

The big at-bat in Padres' sixth involved Nady, a lightning rod of late. His grand-slam decided a 13-inning marathon in Atlanta on Saturday, and he was called out on a dubious checked swing on Sunday night in a key at-bat against the Braves after triggering a go-ahead rally with a double against John Smoltz.

In this at-bat, Brian Giles having singled in front of Mark Loretta, who walked, and Nady fell behind 1-2 to the veteran Oswalt. Nady then stayed alive with five foul balls in working the count full.

Oswalt dropped a breaking ball that Nady and his manager, Bruce Bochy, were convinced was well outside the strike zone. The call by Bob Davidson went to Oswalt. Nady walked away mumbling, and he was in no mood to discuss it after the game.

"That was more than questionable," Bochy said. "He's got no chance to hit that pitch. That ball didn't come near catching part of the plate. That's a huge call. It definitely changes the game. [Nady] had a great at-bat, and it ended on a bad note."

Instead of the bases loaded and none out, Oswalt had some breathing room, and eventually escaped unscathed, retiring Damian Jackson on a popup and hitting Miguel Olivo with a pitch before Fick grounded to second.

"It's unfortunate that a missed call could have changed the game," said Dave Roberts, who doubled and scored along with Joe Randa in the third on successive RBI singles by Giles and Loretta. "Everybody makes mistakes, but that hurt.

"I thought we had a good effort tonight. A couple of weeks ago, there was no intensity. There is no excuse for that. But we've turned it up a notch. From the road trip to tonight, you can't say we're lethargic.

"And there will be a lot of intensity [Tuesday night] when Jake [Peavy] goes out there against Roger [Clemens]. That's going to be a great matchup."

With the Diamondbacks falling to the Mets, the Padres retained their four-game lead in the National League West Division, and the third-place Dodgers remained five back.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.