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Royals hold off struggling Padres 4-3

Royals Padres Baseball brett sullivan
Posted at 6:57 AM, May 18, 2023

SAN DIEGO (AP) — What was left of the crowd of 32,416 at Petco Park on a gloomy afternoon loudly booed the San Diego Padres after Ha-Seong Kim made the last out of a dismal 4-3 loss to the lowly Kansas City Royals.

It wasn't the first time Wednesday frustrated fans let the high-priced Padres have it as they continued to flounder with runners in scoring position and make baserunning blunders.

The Padres were supposed to be so much better this year, with baseball's third-highest payroll and a quartet of superstars in Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Juan Soto. Yet they dropped two of three to the Royals, who are last in the AL Central, and have lost nine of 11 overall to tumble to fourth place in the NL West, eight games behind the rival Los Angeles Dodgers and four games under .500.

“I mean, we're frustrated. The way that we finished the game, I would boo ourselves, too," Tatis said.

Machado, sidelined indefinitely after finding out he has a fractured bone in his left hand, agreed.

“I don’t blame them. We’re not playing well right now," said Machado, who was hurt when he was hit by a pitch Monday night and doesn't know if he'll need to go on the injured list. "There’s an expectation that we had coming into the season and they expect us to go out there and win every single game. I think collectively as a group we’ve got to go out there and be better as a group. We’ve got to trust the process. Things really aren’t really rolling our way right now, at all.”

The season opened with World Series aspirations after the Padres made a stirring run to the NL Championship Series last fall. Now there's an ugly skid that includes five losses in six games to the Dodgers, beaten by San Diego in four games during their Division Series last October.

Vinnie Pasquantino hit a tiebreaking two-run homer off Yu Darvish for the Royals. His homer to right field, his eighth, and Maikel Garcia's RBI double gave Kansas City a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning.

The Padres went 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 overall.

San Diego's offensive woes continued despite Kansas City needing a bullpen day. The Padres scored twice in the sixth to pull to 4-3 but Tatis, moved down to third in the lineup, popped out weakly with the bases loaded to end the inning.

The Padres loaded the bases with one out in the seventh against Aroldis Chapman, but Trent Grisham struck out for the fourth straight time and then a wild pitch by Chapman caromed off the backstop right back to catcher Salvador Perez, who easily tagged out Juan Soto trying to score, ending the inning.

That blunder came one day after the Padres made two critical outs on the bases late in a 5-4 loss.

“We feel like we took good at-bats as an offense today and we keep the line moving, but we just couldn’t execute at the end,” Tatis said.

The Padres kept the clubhouse closed for several minutes afterward.

“Just as a group coming together, as a group just talking, seeing what’s going on and just giving some honest feedback each one to each other, as a group together,” Tatis said. “Of course, there’s frustration. Everybody’s been coming to this clubhouse, been working so hard. ... But just at the end of the day, it’s just not happening right now.”

Royals opener Carlos Hernández held the Padres to two hits in two scoreless innings while striking out four.

The Padres’ recurring woes with runners in scoring position intensified against Mike Mayers, who came on to start the third and made his Royals debut after having his contract selected from Triple-A Omaha. Tatis came up with runners on first and second with one out in the third and grounded into a double play.

Mayers got out of a huge jam in the fourth when he loaded the bases with one out, on a single and consecutive walks, before striking out Grisham and Austin Nola to elicit boos from the crowd.

Jake Cronenworth homered to right in the fifth, his fourth, to tie the game at 1.

MJ Melendez hit an RBI double for the Royals in the fourth.

Josh Taylor (1-1) got two outs for the win. Scott Barlow pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save.

“Big series, especially after going to Milwaukee and getting swept,” Pasquantino said. “I think it would have been really easy to fall asleep, essentially, and not lock in for the rest of this series, but it was a really resilient job of the guys being able to lock in for these three games.”

Darvish (2-3) allowed four runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.