The Cubs were riding the wave going into Friday night's game against San Diego at Petco Park, but their seven-game win streak was wiped out with one bad inning.
The Padres scored four runs in the fifth off right-hander Sergio Mitre and made it hold up in a 6-2 win before a crowd of 41,158.
"I felt great," Mitre said. "I was throwing the ball good, and I was throwing strikes. It was the little things. I couldn't close out that inning. . . . I need to do a better job of picking up my team and just getting out of that inning.
"It's on me. I'm the one throwing the ball."
Staked to a 2-0 lead in the second on an RBI double by Michael Barrett and a sacrifice fly by Neifi Perez, Mitre gave up a single run in the fourth before falling apart and being removed one inning later.
After a one-out single by Padres starter Adam Eaton, Dave Roberts reached on a bunt when Derrek Lee slipped and couldn't get back to the bag, forcing Mitre to eat the ball.
Mitre bore down and induced Geoff Blum to ground to Lee, who threw to Perez to second for the force. Perez's relay was on target, but Mitre couldn't handle it, allowing the tying run to score on Perez's throwing error.
"I was going one way and the ball was a little behind me," Mitre said. "It should've been a double play."
Mitre then walked the next two hitters before giving up a two-run single to Phil Nevin on an 0-2 pitch.
"It was high enough where he could reach it," Mitre said. "Bad pitch."
Ramon Hernandez followed with an RBI single off Roberto Novoa, and Blum added an insurance run in the sixth with a two-out, run-scoring hit off Novoa.
Eaton (8-1) held the Cubs in check through seven innings, allowing six hits and three walks while striking out four. The Cubs were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.
They threatened after Eaton left the game, loading the bases in the eighth with two outs off reliever Chris Hammond. But reliever Akinori Otsuka struck out pinch-hitter Jason Dubois on three pitches, ending the Cubs' chances for good.
With two inexperienced youngsters in the rotation in Mitre and John Koronka, the Cubs know their offense must operate on all cylinders. Friday was the first time in eight games the Cubs finished with less than 10 hits.
Asked about the difficulty of keeping everything afloat with two kids in the rotation, manager Dusty Baker said: "You've got what you've got and you hope they do well."
The focus beforehand was on Lee, who came into Friday with eight hits in his last eight at-bats, with a couple of walks in between, and 10 hits in his last 11 at-bats.
Asked if he had ever been in such a zone, Lee said: "Not that I can think of. It's been a good stretch. I just feel great at the plate. I don't have an explanation for it."
Lee's streak ended with a groundout to short in the first inning, and he was hitless in five at-bats. The major-league record for hits in succession is 12, set by the Boston Red Sox's Mike Higgins over a four-game stretch in 1938, and tied by Detroit's Walt Dropo in a three-game stretch in 1952.
Baker was Barry Bonds' manager during Bonds' record-setting 73-home run season in 2001, but even he is amazed at Lee's consistency.
"This is probably one of the best streaks I've ever seen," Baker said. "He's patient. He's getting a good pitch to hit. He's not missing. More importantly, he's not only hitting for himself. He's hitting when we need him to hit for us too.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun