Diminishing hopes

The Padres' hopes of duplicating their franchise-record 22-6 mark of last May have all but disappeared.

After winning 15 of 16 games en route to posting a 13-1 mark after the first 14 games in May, the Padres have lost five of their last six -- capped by a three-game sweep by the Mariners over the weekend at Safeco Field in Seattle.

A week ago, the Padres were celebrating a sweep of their seven-game season series against the Cubs -- an all-May blitz that carried the Padres to the top of the National League West just as last May's run did.

But this week's plunge on the road in Phoenix and Seattle has dropped the Padres into a tie with San Francisco for last in the NL West.

So, what changed with the Padres?

When they were hot, they were also playing some teams that were cold -- most notably the Cubs, who account for exactly half of their May wins to date.

The Mariners played the Padres after a closed-door meeting following their midweek sweep at the hands of the A's.

"They came out with a fire in their bellies the whole series," Padres catcher Josh Bard said. "They got the message loud and clear. Baseball evens out. You run into teams when they are hot and cold. We ran into the Cubs at the right time. We ran into the Mariners at the wrong time."

REPLAY: Going into Sunday, Padres right-hander Chan Ho Park had given up only one earned run in his previous three starts covering 22 innings. He gave up 10 runs Sunday -- including eight in the second inning alone -- on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings. And all 10 were earned, equaling the worst outing of his career.

The runs carried the Mariners to a 10-8 victory over the Padres and their first-ever three-game sweep of San Diego in interleague play. The last four runs came on homers by Raul Ibanez, whose three-run shot to center marked only his second hit in 20 career at-bats against Park, and Carl Everett.


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