The stadium lights.
Two costly fly balls lost in the stadium lights in the seventh inning proved to be the downfall of the Padres, who saw their season-high, five-game winning streak come to an unceremonious end with a 7-2 loss to the Dodgers at PETCO Park.
In that seventh inning, the Dodgers (31-33) scored four runs on four hits and two walks, leaving the Padres (28-38) pondering what could have been in the first game of a three-game series against Los Angeles.
"You give them five outs," said Padres pitcher Greg Maddux, "It's hard to hold them."
The seventh inning started innocently enough as reliever Bryan Corey got Angel Berroa to fly out to center field. Pinch-hitter Delwyn Young then hit a low liner to right field that Brian Giles just missed, attempting to make a sliding catch.
Score one for the stadium lights as Giles lost track of the ball at the last moment before going into his slide.
Manager Bud Black went to his bullpen for left-hander Justin Hampson to face the left-handed-hitting Juan Pierre. Hampson did his job, getting Pierre to lift a lazy fly ball to left field. That's when trouble started, as the ball sailed over the head of left fielder Justin Huber and fell to the ground.
He too lost the ball in the lights.
The Padres' predicament got even messier when Hampson walked Andre Ethier to load the bases. Black brought in Cla Meredith, who got Jeff Kent to hit a hard grounder to third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, who made a nice running grab of the ball to throw home to get the forceout.
Black then went to Heath Bell, who fired fastballs of 95 and 96 mph on the outside corner to quickly get ahead of Russell Martin. But when Bell tried to go back to the same spot, Martin went the other way, bouncing a ball into right field for a 3-2 lead.
The Dodgers tacked on two more runs in the inning off Bell on Matt Kemp's infield single -- that's right, two runs -- as Martin, running on contact, scored all the way from second base on the play, just eluding a tag from catcher Michael Barrett.
Maddux walked a tightrope at times Tuesday, allowing a run in the first inning on two singles and a walk. He allowed two consecutive hits to begin the fourth inning, but snared a line drive up the middle off the bat of Kemp to start a double play.
Maddux allowed two more baserunners on the fifth inning, including a leadoff single by Berroa, but wiggled out of trouble. A strong throw by Scott Hairston in center in the sixth inning cut off a potential run at the plate when James Loney was thrown out on Blake DeWitt's single.
"It was all right ... I got away with a lot, and made a couple of decent pitches," Maddux said. "They're good hitters."
Los Angeles' rookie, 20-year-old Clayton Kershaw, didn't fare as well as Maddux, though he ran enough 96 and 97 mph heaters by the Padres in his 5 1/3 inning outing to cause the Padres to take notice.
Kershaw allowed two runs on six hits with four walks and five strikeouts. He needed 92 pitches to get 16 outs. He allowed an RBI single to Adrian Gonzalez in the third inning and earned a run on a wild pitch from Scott Proctor, working in relief.
"He had a really good fastball. ... It's hard to believe that a kid at 20 years old could be pitching on the Major League level," Barrett said. "I know he doesn't have the numbers of a guy who's had a lot of success, but he had success today. And it's hard to believe that a 20-year-old can have that kind of success at this level. I just think it shows how good he is."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.