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LeBlanc scuffles as Padres drop fifth straight

LeBlanc scuffles as Padres drop fifth straight

PHOENIX -- Adrian Gonzalez walked from the showers toward manager Bud Black's office and poked his head inside.

"Jerry Hairston for MVP; let's start that campaign," the San Diego slugger said, then explained: "He goes down; we're 0-5."

It's one picture of a Padres clubhouse that doesn't seem to be wary of its season-worst five-game losing streak, extended on Monday night with a 7-2 defeat to the last-place D-backs.

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Stuck on victory No. 76, one more than it had in all of 2009, San Diego's skid (yes, it coincides with Hairston Jr. aggravating a lingering right elbow sprain) does, though, represent a low-point for the National League West's first-place club. Its last such stretch was three straight losses, when it was swept by the Dodgers in mid-May.

"We don't really worry about what happened in the past," said second baseman David Eckstein, whose club, thanks to the Giants' ninth-inning collapse in Colorado, remained five games ahead of San Francisco in the division standings. "That's what has made us so successful, and I see us doing that. We're definitely going through a tough stretch, but it's one of things where if you're a good club, you can battle through."

Monday night, Eckstein and his teammates battled the D-backs' Joe Saunders (2-4) five days after tagging him for nine runs (six earned) at PETCO Park. This time, Arizona's lefty allowed only Miguel Tejada's first-inning, two-run home run before scattering six hits over his next seven frames of work.

But, as another showing of Padres' calm, Eckstein and Black felt they did all they could have, all they should have to win.

"We found some holes the other time [against Saunders]; we didn't tonight," said Eckstein, who singled and scored on Tejada's long ball, but was retired on a hard-hit lineout in both the second and eighth innings.

"We hit some balls on the nose," Black added. "Eckstein two had line-drive outs. Gonzalez's two line drives to short, outs. [Scott] Hairston line drive, out. [Ryan] Ludwick 412 feet, out."

Black, giving credit where credit was due, also complimented Saunders' sinker and changeup location. Command wasn't a strength of the skipper's own starter.

Wade LeBlanc (8-12), who bested Saunders last Wednesday and had won three of his past four starts, yielded six runs in three innings, matching his second shortest outing of the season.

Miguel Montero's two-run double in the first preceded Mark Reynolds' two-run, opposite field homer, which came on an 0-2 fastball.

"I was just trying to get on top of it," Reynolds said. "It was up and away and I ended up barreling it and put a good swing on it. The second homer was a little more intentional than the first."

Reynolds' second, a two-run blast in the third, came on a 3-2 changeup, a pitch Reynolds said he was sitting on. The D-backs' third baseman is now 5-for-10 with three home runs all-time against LeBlanc.

"It was just a bad night," said LeBlanc, whose rotation slot is becoming more tenuous. "I didn't bring anything to the table; I got crushed all over the yard tonight."

While LeBlanc deemed deep counts and high-in-the-zone pitches as his fault lines, Black pointed to fastball command.

"When a starting pitcher isn't able to locate his fastball," Black said, "he's going to run into difficulty, because it is the pitch that you throw most."

LeBlanc was pulled before the start of the fourth in favor of right-handed reliever Tim Stauffer, who held down the D-backs for the ensuing three innings, but received no run support from the lineup, which, over the course of the club's five-game losing streak, has averaged two runs per game.

Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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