MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The first inning was filled with almost every miscue imaginable for the San Diego Padres. It went like this: two errors, a wild pitch, a walk, a passed ball and a three-run homer.
By the time the Padres finally got out of the first inning on Friday night, they trailed by five runs. And while San Diego closed the gap and were a late hit away from tying the game, that collection of early miscues was enough for the Padres to lose 6-5 to the Twins.
Chase Headley summed it up best: ``It's not a good feeling to come off the field down 5-0 after the first inning.'
That's especially true right now for the Padres. The loss to Minnesota was San Diego's seventh in eight games and the Padres' deficit in the National League West has now grown to double digits.
``It was a bad first inning, there's no doubt,' Padres manager Bud Black said. ``Not many good things happened in the first.'
As a result, Clayton Richard (2-9) lost his fifth straight decision, a career-longest streak. While Richard didn't get a lot of defensive help, he knew he made mistakes as well.
The biggest mistake was falling behind in the count to Minnesota's Danny Valencia. After walking Delmon Young, Richard threw two quick balls to Valencia. On the next pitch, Valencia hit a three-run blast to left field that gave Minnesota a 5-0 lead.
``I came out throwing the ball OK,' Richard said. ``Then I had a couple of hitters where I didn't throw the ball well. It cost us.'
Richard recovered enough to pitch into the sixth inning despite not having his best stuff.
``We didn't help him much in the first inning and he was a part of that,' Black said. ``That was a team-first inning.'
Even though the Padres lost, the players and Black said they were encouraged by the next eight innings. Instead of simply giving up and moving on to the second game of this series, San Diego rallied.
Trailing 6-2 in the seventh, the Padres got a pair of two-out singles against Alex Burnett. Ryan Ludwick followed by launching a first-pitch fastball into the second deck to pull the Padres within one, 6-5.
``We battled back, outhit them, got their closer in the game, put a lot of stress on them, got the momentum back on our side,' Black said. ``We played much better after the first inning.'
San Diego had a chance in the eighth after Jesus Guzman led off with a single and was at second base with one out. But Minnesota reliever Glen Perkins was able to strike out Nick Hundley and Alberto Gonzalez to end the inning. Twins closer Matt Capps pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to record his 10th save in 15 attempts this season and preserve the victory for Brian Duensing (4-6).
``It's nice to see us fight back after falling behind early and not playing the way we want to,' said Headley, who had four hits. ``We gave ourselves a chance, that's a positive. ... When you put yourself in a big hole early, it's tough to come all the way back.'
Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer played for the first time since April 12, the leg problems finally behind him. Greeted with a standing ovation before his first at-bat, Mauer hit an RBI single, but he later grounded into a double play and left five men on base. The Twins have won 12 of their last 14 games.
Notes: Guzman made his Padres debut in LF. He made a difficult, crashing catch into the wall to take an extra-base hit from Cuddyer in the fifth. ... Ludwick took a turn as the DH for the Padres. The home run was his first in a month. ... Neshek wasn't the only former Twins player to return to Minnesota. SS Jason Bartlett joined him. 2B Orlando Hudson is hurt, however, and on a minor-league rehab assignment. Neshek was cheered when he reached the mound in the sixth. ``I couldn't believe it,' he said afterward.
The Associated Press News Service
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