MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The San Diego Padres' struggling offense couldn't have gotten off to a much better start on Saturday night when Chris Denorfia led off the game with a triple to right field.
It was all downhill from there. Again.
Scott Baker struck out 10 over eight dominant innings and seven of the 10 Padres who stepped into the batter's box failed to get a hit in a 1-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night.
Denorfia had two hits in the game, but he was stranded at third base in the first inning after Baker fanned Jason Bartlett and Chase Headley and got Ryan Ludwick to fly out to the wall in center field to escape unscathed. It's nothing new for the Padres, who were shut out for the 12th time this season to lose their fourth in a row and eighth in the last 10.
``Our situational hitting hasn't been where it needs to be,' manager Bud Black said. ``We have to really strive to make the percentages of situational hitting increase dramatically.'
As usual, pitching hasn't been the problem in San Diego, where the pitching staff entered the game leading the majors with a 2.92 ERA over the last 28 games. But the Padres were just 12-16 during that span thanks to an offense that was hitting an MLB-low .223 and scored a league-worst 76 runs.
Another punchless effort against Baker spoiled another stellar start from Tim Stauffer (2-5), who gave up one run on six hits with five strikeouts in seven innings. After giving up a solo homer to Danny Valencia in the second inning, Stauffer kept the Twins off the board, and the Padres in the game, for the rest of his outing.
``We just didn't get those hits when we needed them,' Stauffer said.
Baker (5-4) was mostly to blame for that. The right-hander allowed four hits and walked one as the Twins won for the sixth time in a row and 13th time in 15 games. Matt Capps pitched the ninth for his 11th save.
``They're a free-swinging team so you try to take advantage of that,' Baker said.
He also had to wiggle out of a jam at the end of his night, getting Denorfia to groundout to third base and Bartlett to groundout to shortstop with the tying run on second base.
Manager Ron Gardenhire visited Baker on the mound just before Denorfia stepped to the plate, but he stuck with his starter even though Jim Hoey and Jose Mijares were ready to go in the bullpen.
``It makes you feel good that he gave me the chance to make some pitches,' Baker said.
Stauffer carried a 15-inning scoreless streak into the start, tied for the second-longest active streak in the majors. It ended at 16 when Valencia hit his solo homer to left field, his second long ball in as many nights.
``I wish I could have gotten that one back,' said Stauffer, who has a 0.41 ERA in his last three starts.
Will Venable also had two hits, but that was it for the Padres offense. Anthony Rizzo walked in the fifth inning and Nick Hundley reached on a fielder's choice right after that to become the only other two Padres hitters to reach base in the game.
``It's not affecting anything I do out there,' Stauffer said. ``We had a DH today so there's really nothing I can do on that end. We'll come around with the bats.'
NOTES: The Padres fell to 97-132 in interleague play, 0-5 in 2011. ... Denorfia has a hit in six straight games and is batting .327 since April 13. ... Hundley struck out in his first at-bat of the night, extending a dubious streak to eight straight plate appearances with a strikeout. When he grounded into the fielder's choice in the fifth inning, it was the first time he had not struck out since his first at-bat on June 14 against Colorado.
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