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SD@STL: Ross fans two over six innings of work

ST. LOUIS -- For much of the season, Tyson Ross has appeared to dispel the adage that "walks will haunt," but there was no eluding the old proverb when he loaded the bases from the onset on Friday night.

Three walks started the right-hander's outing, and the first-inning blemish proved costly as the Cardinals capitalized for two early runs in an eventual 4-2 victory in front of 42,662 at Busch Stadium, sending the Padres to their second straight loss on the heels of a five-game winning streak.

"Not many strikes," Ross said. "Plain and simple, I just didn't have fastball command the first inning. I put myself in a big hole there, and they capitalized on it."

Ross needed 32 pitches -- of which only 15 were strikes -- in laboring through the first inning, walking the first three hitters of the game with 16 pitches. A single back through the middle by Matt Adams plated the Cardinals' first run and a groundout scored another before Ross eventually worked out of the jam by stranding runners on the corners with a flyout and grounder to second.

Ross would settle in after the laborious inning, but command eluded him once more in the fourth. He hit Jon Jay twice on the night and watched Jay come around to score the Cardinals' third run after the leadoff plunk in the fourth, when he surrendered a two-out walk followed by a single to Kolten Wong.

Ross finished the night allowing three runs over six innings -- enough to give him his 11th straight quality start, tied for the longest streak in franchise history -- but the command issues, which in the end included four walks to go along with the two HBPs, did the All-Star in.

"As statistics go these days, it's a quality start, but Tyson's standard's, the way he's thrown this year, we'd all think that he had a tough night," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Tough night as far as control and command. Right out of the chute, the Cardinals laid off some pitches [and] he couldn't get the ball in the zone. Three walks to start the game, not how you want to start."

"You could see that we better make something happen early here, because once he does find his release point, once he finds his rhythm, he's got a slider that is difficult to pick up and lay off, and he has an above-average fastball with a short arm stroke," Cards manager Mike Matheny said. "Fortunately, we were able to get a little bit early and then add on some late."

A one-out rally in the fifth, which included a string of two singles and a double, put the Padres on the board with a run after Will Venable doubled home Jace Peterson. A strikeout and popout stranded runners on second and third, however, with the heart of the order due up.

"We had an opportunity to get back in the game in the middle part of the game with guys on second and third, and couldn't get Tyson [home] from third with less than two," Black said. "That would have drawn us closer."

Yasmani Grandal's pinch-hit home run off Pat Neshek in the ninth, which came after the Cardinals added an insurance run in the eighth, did draw the Padres closer. But Grandal's second pinch-hit homer of the season closed the Padres' scoring when Venable struck out to end the game, stranding a two-out double from Chris Nelson.

In all, the Padres stranded eight runners and went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They have now gone 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of this series, stranding a total of 16 baserunners.

Ross, meanwhile, has now walked 60 hitters this season, the fourth-most among National League pitchers.

The right-hander, who has posted a 2.70 ERA despite the high walk count, has walked at least two hitters in each of the last four starts, including five to begin that stretch. In that start, which came against the Cardinals in San Diego, Ross still managed to hold St. Louis to one run and pick up the win.

Friday night, there was no such luck to be had.

"It's kind of hard when you shoot yourself in the foot like that," Ross said. "I think innings two through six were a lot better than the first one. I needed to make an adjustment, and unfortunately that didn't happen until the second inning."

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