BOSTON — After a stretch in which they won 12 of 16 games to pull into the NL West race, the San Diego Padres have hit a rough stretch.
Middlebury’s Eric Stults gave up four runs and nine hits over 4 1/3 innings without walking or striking out a batter and the Padres’ offense struggled again in an 8-2 loss to Boston on Thursday as the Red Sox completed a sweep of the three-game series.
San Diego has lost a season-high six straight and 10 of the last 12 to fall into a tie with San Francisco for last place in the West.
“Our guys are playing their (tails) off, and the last six games haven’t gone our way,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “We haven’t got the big hit when we’ve had some opportunities.
“This is the part of the season, part of the summer, where it’s hot. It’s hot for everybody. You’ve got to keep pushing through,” he added. “We were swept in this series. We’ve swept some teams to get back in the race in the West, but our guys know what’s in front of them.”
Hopefully a little bit more offensive production.
The Padres have totaled just seven runs during their six-game slide, and have scored two or fewer runs in nine of the last 12 games overall.
Cleanup hitter Chase Headley, who was 1 for 9 in the series, doesn’t seem concerned.
“I think it’s looked worse than it has been,” he said. “We’ve had some at-bats in situations where we had a chance to drive in runs and the guys hit the ball hard and it just hasn’t gone in the hole for us. Obviously it’s disappointing when you put one, two runs up on the board for an extended period of time.
“We’ll just keep going and hopefully we can break out of a little mini-funk.”
One bright spot for San Diego during an otherwise dismal trip to Boston was the play of Jesus Guzman, who went 5 for 10 with a homer and two doubles in the series. He drove in a run Thursday with a shot high off the Green Monster in left field in the fifth inning. Just a few feet higher, though, and it would have been a game-tying, three-run homer.
“Two feet, tie game, 4-4,” Black said. “That’s probably out in a lot of parks. That ball was smoked.”
Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run double and David Ortiz had a two-run single for the Red Sox, who won for the 12th time in their last 14 home games, and finished 8-1 at Fenway Park to match their best homestand since June 2010.
Brandon Snyder and Jacoby Ellsbury each had solo homers for Boston.
Allen Webster (1-2) pitched six innings for his first major league win, allowing two runs and five hits, while walking four and striking out two.
Stults (6-7), a former Bethel College star, was tagged for seven runs — six earned — in 3 2/3 innings in his previous start Saturday in a loss at Miami after giving up two runs or less in his previous six.
“The Red Sox made him work for every out,” Black said. “That was sort of the theme for this series where they’re very good two-strike hitters, they foul tough pitches off, they don’t swing at balls. Stultsy had to work awful hard to get his outs.”
Pedroia’s two-run double in the first moved Boston ahead 2-0. Ellsbury singled leading off to extend his season-high hitting streak to 14 games and Shane Victorino doubled off the Green Monster before Pedroia doubled into the left-field corner.
In the second, Snyder homered into Boston’s bullpen to make it 3-0. Ortiz’s bases-loaded, two-run single off reliever Tyson Ross in the sixth gave the Red Sox a comfortable 7-2 lead.
Ellsbury homered over the bullpens to make it 8-2.
Headley’s sacrifice fly had cut it to 3-1 in the third before Jose Iglesias’ run-scoring, ground-rule double pushed Boston’s lead back to three an inning later.
The Padres sliced it to 4-2 in the fifth on Guzman’s single off the wall, but Webster got Mark Kotsay to line to left, ending the inning with two runners on.
Jonny Gomes’ RBI single made it 5-2.