SAN DIEGO - Five days ago, Jody Gerut got hold of a Jon Rauch ninth-inning pitch at Chase Field and ripped it for a home run - but Dan Haren and the Diamondbacks had a three-run cushion and were able to absorb the blow.
Monday at Petco Park, there was no such margin for error and Gerut's two-out, two-run, ninth-inning homer stole a 4-2 win that snapped a seven-game Padres losing streak and ruined yet another chance for Arizona to put the Dodgers farther in their rear-view mirror.
For the third time in four days, a winnable game slipped away from the D-Backs while the Dodgers were getting mauled in Philadelphia. And Rauch, who called himself out after he couldn't hold a one-run lead against Florida on Friday, has now allowed six runs and eight hits in his last 32/3 innings to further complicate Arizona's muddled bullpen situation.
After Haren struck out 11 batters for the first time in nearly two years (Aug. 27, 2006, at Texas) and scattered nine hits over seven innings, the bullpen was in constant trouble. Tony Pena snuck out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth - both created (an error) and solved (a double play) by Stephen Drew - and Rauch caught a break when a wild Mark Reynolds throw caromed right to first baseman Chad Tracy and made Brian Giles the second out of the ninth.
But after Luis Rodriguez singled, Gerut homered for the seventh time this month.
"Once we got (San Diego starter Jake Peavy) out of the game, all along we thought we were going to win the game," D-Backs manager Bob Melvin said. "(Rauch) is going to keep getting run out there. He's in a pennant race right now and I'm sure it hurts a little right now, but come (today), he'll come to the park with a positive attitude."
While the San Diego bullpen allowed one hit in three innings, another quality start by Haren and a chance to build on a three-game lead in the NL West was wasted.
"The last thing we're going to do is hang our heads," said Haren, who also had two of Arizona's five hits.