Lead, maybe win, eludes Padres

Lead, maybe win, eludes Padres

ATLANTA -- No, one swing on Tuesday might not have erased the rough stretch that the Padres have endured thus far -- the lack of hitting in the crucial situations, the misgivings from the bullpen and, most of all, the losing.

But it certainly would have helped and been much welcomed.

When Adrian Gonzalez jumped all over a fat curveball in the ninth inning on Tuesday at Turner Field, the first baseman, who has hit four home runs in the past week, looked as if he might have his fifth -- and a big one at that.

"It looked for a long time it might stay fair from our vantage point," San Diego manager Bud Black said of the swing Gonzalez put on a Royce Ring curveball with two runners on base. "Right off the bat, I thought that it had a chance. He just wasn't able to keep it fair."

Gonzalez's near-miss eventually became a swing-and-miss, and the Padres, who would have taken the lead had Gonzalez's 345-foot foul ball had stayed fair, were left to deal with another loss, this time a 5-3 setback to the Braves before a crowd of 21,657.

The loss wasn't just felt in the standings, either.

San Diego relief pitcher Kevin Cameron left the game in the sixth inning after throwing just three pitches. The initial diagnosis from the team was a first-degree sprained ulnar collateral in his right elbow.

It's an injury similar to the one that catcher Michael Barrett suffered on April 7, though Cameron said he felt no numbness in his fingers like Barrett did after his sprain. Black indicated that Cameron will likely go on the disabled list on Wednesday.

As for Tuesday, the Padres were haunted by many of the same shortcomings that have plagued them this season -- they had 11 hits, but stranded 10, and were just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position with 12 strikeouts.

Jim Edmonds, now hitting .172, ended four different innings with outs. Shortstop Khalil Greene saw his average dip to .213 with a career-high four strikeouts. Brian Giles went 4-for-5 and Tadahito Iguchi had two hits, but they didn't get much help.

"It was good to get that one [run] in the first, but we're having trouble adding on runs later in the game," said Giles, who put the Padres ahead when he doubled and scored a run in the first inning on a Gonzalez double.

"As bad as we have been in the first five weeks, it would be nice to get five or six guys going at once. You can't be this bad this long."

San Diego pitcher Chris Young (2-3) allowed a two-run home run to Chipper Jones in the third inning and a solo home run to Mark Kotsay to begin the fifth. He has allowed seven home runs in 39 2/3 innings after just 10 in 173 innings last season.

"Strange night ... it might have been some of the best stuff I have had this year," Young said. "Sometimes, you run into a hot team and things go their way."

The home run to Jones, who is hitting a robust .426 this season, came on a pitch Young wasn't especially displeased with. He didn't like the result, of course, but he had no issues with the location.

"I thought that it was a pretty good pitch," Young said of the fastball just off the outside corner. "If he had laid off it, it might have been a ball. I didn't think it was a bad pitch."

Trailing 5-1 with very little to show for the first six innings against Atlanta pitcher Jair Jurrjens, who struck out eight, the Padres got two runs back in the seventh inning, when Iguchi drove in Giles with a triple and when Gonzalez knocked in Iguchi with a groundout.

Then in the ninth inning, pinch-hitter Tony Clark singled, and he was forced out at second when Giles bounced into a fielder's choice. Iguchi then followed with a single. Ring, a former Padre, came in to face Gonzalez.

Ring left a 72-mph curveball out over the plate to Gonzalez, who put a good swing on the ball and sent it towering toward right field. It eventually hooked foul, barely missing the foul pole. He then struck out.

"A great swing," Giles said, "that could have changed the game for us."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.