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Gonzalez's 21st homer comes in loss

Gonzalez's 21st homer comes in loss

SAN DIEGO -- The one that got away Monday was the one Scott Hairston didn't want to let go, which makes perfect sense if you consider the way the Padres' left fielder has been swinging the bat recently.

Hairston wasn't so much in the mood to talk about his third home run in as many days as he was about a near-miss in the ninth inning, where an inch here or there could well have changed the outcome of the Padres' 5-3 loss to the Phillies at PETCO Park.

Three innings after following Adrian Gonzalez's Major League-leading 21st home run of the season with his own prodigious blast, a 378-foot bolt off Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton that reached the left-field seats in no time, Hairston got another chance.

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With Gonzalez on first base, Hairston ran into a Brad Lidge fastball just where he likes it, up in the strike zone. Hairston extended his arms, made what seemed to be solid contact, sending the ball high and deep to left field where it settled in Raul Ibanez's glove.

Three steps out of the batter's box, Hairston grimaced, knowing what he had just missed.

"To miss something that close, that late in the game ... it's not easy," he said. "I did not really square it up that well. I did barely miss that pitch."

And so, the Padres (25-26) missed their best chance to extend what was a 10-game home winning streak, as the Phillies (29-20) got seven strong innings from Blanton and as well as a pair of home runs of their own, from Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, to win the first of the three-game series.

The consecutive homers by Utley and Howard in the fifth inning essentially ended the night of Padres pitcher Kevin Correia (1-4), who got in trouble early, pitched well during stretches only to leave after 4 1/3 innings after allowing four runs and a season-high 10 hits.

"It just kind of felt like my back was against the wall for most of the start," Correia said. "The leadoff hitter got on every inning I was out there, and that makes it tough. I think I pitched out of it well for the first few innings. I got in trouble in the fifth just by a couple of bad pitches to a couple of good hitters.

"If I had made some good pitches there in the fifth, for how ugly it was, we were still in the game. To go out there and give up back-to-back home runs ... that was tough."

Utley's home run went to right field, down the line and well back into the seats, made it a 3-1 game. Howard, who had struck out twice earlier in the game on curveballs, got a backdoor cutter this time from Correia and sent it well over the fence in center field for a 4-1 lead.

San Diego center fielder Tony Gwynn gave chase, but knew early on that he didn't have much of a chance to run down Howard's 15th home run of the season.

"I got about three steps into it when I realized it was far out of my reach," Gwynn said. "They've got a couple of guys who can make this place look small."

The Padres cut into that lead with the home runs by Gonzalez, an opposite-field shot to left field, and then Hairston's eighth home run of the season.

"He's swinging the bat well. It's all about pitch selection," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's confident and he's seeing the ball well."

But the Padres didn't make any more noise until the ninth.

Gonzalez walked to start the inning and Lidge was summoned from the bullpen. Lidge, who earlier this season allowed a three-run home run in the ninth to Kevin Kouzmanoff, got Hairston on the near-miss, the fly ball to left field.

It was during Brian Giles' at-bat when Lidge uncorked a pitch in the dirt that briefly got away from catcher Carlos Ruiz. Gonzalez lit out for second base as Ruiz recovered the ball, throwing to shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who was near the second-base bag.

Gonzalez slid past the bag, but recovered quickly enough to reach back with his foot to the base. Rollins applied a tag on Gonzalez's leg as the momentum of the slide appeared to carry him toward left field.

Gonzalez was called out, but argued, as did Black, that he was pushed off the base by the tag from Rollins.

"I clearly got in there, I kept my balance, I kept my foot on the bag, and he came in there and pushed me off, and the umpire missed it," Gonzalez said. "[The umpire] said it was part of the tag.

"He clearly pushed me. My toe was on the bag.... he didn't just go to try to tag me. He went with his whole body. He acted like his intention was to push me."

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

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