ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Alexi Amarista homered and Will Venable extended his hitting streak to seven games. Outside of that, little went right offensively for San Diego in another close loss.
The Tampa Bay Rays completed a three-game sweep of the Padres with a 4-2 victory Sunday. It's the fourth time they've swept been this season, compared to five all of last year.
Manager Bud Black watched his team lose leads in each game. Adding to the frustration: San Diego struck out 38 times, their highest total in a three-game series since fanning 40 times against the New York Yankees from June 17-19, 2008.
``We had some opportunities and couldn't get the big hit, and they did,' Padres manager Bud Black said. ``We just couldn't mount any sustained offense.'
Roberto Hernandez (2-4) pitched six innings, giving up five hits and two runs.
Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth inning for his 11th save.
The Rays trailed 2-1 in the sixth when Evan Longoria, who hit a winning two-run homer with two outs in the ninth Saturday night, led off with a double. Rodriguez hit a tying single off Eric Stults (3-3), moved up on a wild pitch by Brad Brach and scored on Escobar's double for a 3-2 lead.
Loney, hitting .456 in his last 24 games, connected for his third homer of the season in the eighth off Dale Thayer.
``They were three well-played close games that didn't go our way,' Black said. ``They got the big hit last night in the ninth. Escobar got a big hit today. So, a couple of pitches back, we win two out of three.'
Longoria scored twice. He walked in the second and headed home on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Jose Molina.
Yonder Alonso tied it for the Padres with an RBI single in the fourth. Amarista's second home run of the season put the Padres ahead 2-1 in the fifth.
Stults pitched 5 1-3 innings, giving up three runs on five hits and a season-high five walks.
``That's not my game. For me, I have to attack the strike zone,' Stults said.
``He hung in there,' Black said. ``He battled his command a little bit. Ball-strike ratio wasn't great. He sort of found it a little bit in the fourth and fifth, but it just looked as though he wasn't making his pitches as we've seen him.'
The Padres finished with six hits. They were robbed on excellent defensive plays by Sam Fuld in center field, Escobar at short and Matt Joyce in right field.
San Diego hit five homers in the series, the most the team's had in a three-game set this season, and the Padres led in all three games.
``That happens. It's tough. When you play 162 games, you're not going to keep every single lead. But I'll take our guys when we have a lead,' the manager said. ``It just didn't happen this series.'
NOTES: RHP Burch Smith, who pitched only 1 1-3 innings for the Padres in his major league debut Saturday night, will start at home next weekend against Washington. Black said he plans to use ``the same rotation for the foreseeable future.' ... Rays CF Desmond Jennings was out of the lineup for a third straight day. The Rays have acknowledged no injury for Jennings, who is on a seven-game hitting streak. . . Amarista's home run was the Padres' 19th in 14 games. They hit only 12 in their first 23 games.
The Associated Press News Service
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