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Greg Maddux looked bruised, battered and bewildered Monday night at Petco Park, where the Cubs extended their losing streak to seven games in an 8-3 loss to the Padres.
Maddux lost his second straight start on the West Coast swing, lasting only 3 2/3 innings and allowing seven runs on nine hits. After winning his first five starts, Maddux has given up 12 runs on 19 hits over 8 2/3 innings in his last two to see his earned-run average rise from 1.35 to 3.64.
"His location was off tonight and he got beat by a hot team," manager Dusty Baker said. "To me, the worst is over. We started hitting the ball good but don't have a lot to show for it."
How can the Cubs escape this funk?
"You start by pitching good," Maddux said. "It's kind of like you need to step it up a notch, and I didn't do it. You know the easiest way to win a game is to shut the other team down. I didn't do it. You'd like to come in and control the first five or six innings at least and see what happens from there, and I never gave us a chance."
Things have gone so sour for the Cubs these days that even good pitches go bad. Maddux jammed shortstop Khalil Greene on the fists with an inside pitch in the fourth inning, only to watch Greene hit a 334-foot popup that landed in a luxury box a couple of feet to the right of the left-field foul pole.
The Padres, meanwhile, could do no wrong in winning their ninth straight. Right fielder Brian Giles fell backward on a Matt Murton fly in the eighth but still made the catch.
"When you're in a bad streak, no matter what we tried didn't work, and everything they tried worked," Baker said. "I'm more optimistic now than when we came here."
The Cubs had been perfectly awful on their West Coast trip, and Monday night was no exception, leading to their ninth loss in 10 games.
Things got off to a dreadful start when a high-flying throw from center fielder Juan Pierre helped pave the way to the Padres' two-run first. After leadoff hitter Dave Roberts walked and stole second, Mike Cameron singled up the middle to drive Roberts home, and easily advanced to second when Pierre's throw home sailed over the cutoff man.
Giles followed with an RBI single up the middle, giving the Padres a 2-0 lead.
With two outs in the third and Roberts on third with a triple, Cubs manager Dusty Baker called for an intentional walk to Giles to face Mike Piazza, who singled up the middle on Maddux's first pitch, making it 3-0.
Considering the Cubs had scored more than two runs in a game only once in their previous nine games, overcoming that three-run deficit was as daunting as climbing a mountain wearing flip-flops.
The Padres added on four in the fourth, and starter Chris Young put it on cruise control until tiring in the seventh inning.
"They're hitting bloopers, they're hitting everything," Baker said. "Sometimes there's nothing you can do. You've got to ride it out. It's simple."