SAN DIEGO — Huston Street is having trouble keeping the ball in the park.
The San Diego Padres closer gave up two more home runs in the ninth inning of a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday – and the culprit was poor pitch location.
Adrian Gonzalez broke a 1-all tie with a drive to right field, and Hanley Ramirez hit the next pitch to right-center to help Los Angeles split the four-game series. It was the second home run in two days for both players.
Street (0-4) has given up 10 home runs in 26 1-3 innings this season. Last year, he allowed two in 39 innings.
This season's mark matches a career high for home runs allowed. Street also gave up 10 in 2011, albeit over 58 1-3 innings while pitching in high altitude for the Colorado Rockies.
"Bottom line ... it's location," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Huston is a guy who changes speeds. He has impeccable control. This year, at times, it's been spotty. We have to get him to the point where he's consistently hitting his spots and making his pitches."
Street has flourished with a lead, converting 15 saves in 16 chances, but he's struggled in tie games – which account for three of his four losses.
"My location has been off in non-save situations," Street said. "My save conversion rate is better than my career average. But, when you get beat at this level, most of the time it's a lack of execution. In times where I've struggled, that's been the problem."
Despite the results, the Padres and Street remain confidence in his abilities.
"His track record is such that we have trust in him," Black said. "Huston didn't beat himself today. The Dodgers beat Huston Street."
Heroics from Gonzalez and Ramirez negated a solid effort by starter Andrew Cashner, who allowed one run in eight innings. He generated 18 outs on the ground with efficiency uncharacteristic of a strikeout pitcher. He fanned only two, but was rarely challenged by the Dodgers.
"The best part about it was the efficiency," Cashner said. "I was able to keep my pitch count down and I threw some good pitches when I was behind in the count."
The game was a pitcher's duel until the ninth because of Dodgers starter Chris Capuano, who volunteered to start on short rest just days after returning from the disabled list. He was healthy, able and up to the task. The left-hander threw five shutout innings, struck out five and walked none. He let only two runners reach scoring position and was pulled before the sixth due to a 75-pitch limit. He threw 74.
Los Angeles needed someone to start after playing a doubleheader Wednesday against the New York Yankees. Capuano pitched six shutout innings that day, showing no ill effects from the strained left calf that sidelined him on May 29.
"I knew that I had a relatively stress free outing in New York where I threw just 80 pitches," Capuano said. "I knew we were going to need a starter for Sunday and I thought I was the guy to take that responsibility. Given the way my body and my arm felt, the assignment made perfect sense."
Nobody got to Capuano, and Cashner was tagged only once.
Juan Uribe broke a scoreless tie with a two-out double in the seventh that drove in Gonzalez, the former San Diego star. The lead didn't last long, though. Carlos Quentin opened the bottom half with a home run to left off reliever Peter Moylan.
Brandon League (3-3) got the last out in the eighth and Kenley Jansen earned his fourth save.
Ramirez kept up his torrid hitting of late. He is 11 for 22 with six runs, seven RBIs and two homers in his last six games.
The Dodgers have won two straight, but haven't won three in a row since April 7th. Buried in last place, the Dodgers must go on a run to get back in the NL West race. Manager Don Mattingly knows they need to do it soon.
"This is a time where we need to get on a roll and we build some momentum," he said. "We've seemed to stall in the past. This time, hopefully we won't."
NOTES: Dodgers CF Matt Kemp went 0 for 5 with four strikeouts Saturday in his first rehab game with Triple-A Albuquerque. He was the DH and will play center field throughout the rest of his assignment, the final stage of his recovery from a hamstring injury. It's scheduled for three games, but Mattingly said Sunday that the stint could be extended to ensure Kemp's timing at the plate is right. OF Scott Van Slyke (shoulder) also is on a rehab assignment with Albuquerque. ... The Padres recalled RHPs Miles Mikolas and Brad Brach from Triple-A Tucson and optioned RHPs Anthony Bass and Brad Boxberger back to their top farm team. The moves were made to add fresh arms to the bullpen, with RHPs Tim Stauffer and Tyson Ross unavailable following extended outings Friday night, when LHP Clayton Richard was removed with an injury in the first inning. ... There is no exact timetable for Padres 2B Jedd Gyorko (groin) to start a minor league rehab assignment with Class-A Lake Elsinore, but manager Bud Black believes it will be sometime next week.