SAN DIEGO -- Adrian Gonzalez made a bold prediction on Sept. 15, after his squad took two of three in Colorado: If the Padres scored four or five runs a game the rest of the way, they would win the NL West.
Since then, the numbers have conspired badly against Gonzalez and his Padres.
They have mustered just four or more runs only five times in 12 games since that day.
In those five games, they're 4-1.
In the seven games in which they've scored three or fewer, the Padres are 1-6.
Emphasizing the struggle, San Diego has managed only a total of four runs over its past 27 innings.
Since Aug. 24 in spacious Petco Park, the Padres are 0-9 when they allow four or more runs at home.
San Diego's 5-2 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday night was devastating to the Padres not just because they now trail the Giants by two games in the NL West and Atlanta by 1 1/2 games in the wild-card chase. No, the loss also was devastating in the method.
The normally sure-footed Padres committed three errors. Mat Latos failed to field a ball in the fifth and, three batters later, Miguel Tejada, ranging into the hole to field Starlin Castro's grounder, threw the ball into the dugout when he had no play.
Gold Glover Adrian Gonzalez booted a ground ball in the seventh and failed to cover first base on a play in the ninth (second baseman David Eckstein threw to pitcher Edward Mujica for the out as Gonzalez stood frozen, watching).
"Baseball works in funny ways," said Latos, now 0-4 with a 10.13 ERA over his past four starts. "The only way I could honestly put it is, we could be like the Giants and go and change our whole lineup, put guys with 'San Francisco Giants' across their jerseys. We didn't.
"We added two guys [Tejada and Ryan Ludwick, now hitting .221 with five homers in 54 games with the Padres]. We've been the same team all year. We haven't just gone and grabbed guys from other teams."
In the season's final week, the contenders making the least number of mistakes emerge to play another day. It's that simple.
And when you're dragging around an anchor of an offense the size of the Padres', your margin for error is minimal.
Likes: The Cincinnati Reds store staying open all night at Great American Ballpark on Tuesday after they clinched. Very cool. Good for the Reds. ... The Baseball Project and Craig Finn (of The Hold Steady) with their new song Don't Call Them Twinkies. Great stuff, with a clear eye for the history of the Twins. Make sure to check it out.
Dislikes: Come on. The guy who owns the Segway company dies when ... he apparently accidentally rides his Segway over a cliff in England? How ironic is that?
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"You gotta grow, you gotta learn by your mistakes
"You gotta die a little everyday just to try to stay awake"
-- Gerry Rafferty, Get it Right Next Time