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Padres short hops

Padres short hops

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ST. LOUIS -- The Padres better hope some home cooking helps them in San Diego on Saturday, or like their 1996 National League Division Series against St. Louis, it could be three and out.

During the first two games at Busch Stadium this week, they were outplayed in every facet of the game -- hitting, baserunning, fielding and pitching. But the Padres have been perfect for their ability to represent the NL West, a division in which the five teams finished a combined 66 games under .500.

Come to think of it, if the Padres lose Game 3 at PETCO Park, they'll also finish under .500 -- 82-83.

It's center stage in the first round of the playoffs, and the Cardinals have been here too many times before. It's déjà vu all over again. Last year, the Dodgers kicked around the ball and lost the first two games in St. Louis by identical scores of 8-3, 16-6, combined.

This time they outscored the Padres, 14-7, 6-2, on Thursday in a game that didn't really seem even that close at the end.

Team stats

Digits Trend The Deal
ERA 6.75 It wasn't Pedro Astacio's fault that no one could make plays behind him
BA .329 Let's see, that's seven ground-ball double plays in the first two games
Runs 7 Couldn't cash in with the bases jammed and one out in the second
Errors 2 Khalil Greene has booted two balls, but that's not the complete picture

Who's hot?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Clay Hensley 2 appearances, 2 2/3 innings, no runs, 1 hit, 2 walks Again stopped the bleeding after the game reeled out of control

Who's not?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Ramon Hernandez 3-for-9 with three singles, no RBIs Seems unwilling to block the plate in key situations

Behind the numbers
The Padres played sub-.500 ball in April (11-13), June (10-17), July (8-18) and now October (1-3). They've lost five out of nine games against the Cardinals. Their best run was three-of-four against them at Busch in May, a month they finished 22-6.

Frozen moment
In the second inning, Joe Randa rocked a line drive off Mark Mulder's left arm. Mulder remained in the game and hit Xavier Nady with a pitch to load the bases with one out in a scoreless tie. Ben Johnson struck out and Astacio grounded out to end the threat. The Padres weren't really in the game after that.

Second guess
Manager Bruce Bochy sent eight right-handed hitters against the left-handed Mulder. Because he played Johnson in right field and Nady at first base, the attempts at generating more offense backfired on defense.

Modern history
In the 1984 NLCS, the Padres lost the first two games to the Cubs at Wrigley Field and were outscored, 17-2, in the process. But the teams returned to what was then called Jack Murphy Stadium in Mission Valley and the Padres swept the next three games to win their first pennant. It was the last of the best-of-five championship round.

Last word
"The Cardinals run the bases well. They execute well. That's why they won 100 games. They turned four double plays. They played perfect ball today. And we didn't."
--Bochy

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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