SAN DIEGO -- At least someone from San Diego was a winner on Saturday night.
And no, it wasn't anyone with the Padres. It was Aaron Harang, who threw eight strong innings against his hometown team as the Cincinnati Reds beat San Diego 9-1, dropping the NL West-leading Padres to two games under .500. Sean Casey and Javier Valentin homered for the Reds.
Things got even more desperate for the Padres (51-53). They had their lead in the NL West cut to just one game over the Arizona Diamondbacks, who won 3-2 at the Chicago Cubs. It's their smallest lead since May 26, when they had a half-game margin over Arizona.
"There's no getting around it. We know we're bad now," said manager Bruce Bochy, whose team has scored just 12 runs in its last seven games. "We're not hitting on any cylinders, pitching or hitting, now. There's not a guy out there who's not giving it everything they've got. We're trying to fight through this. The best thing we can do is hunker down and hold our heads up and keep battling. That's all we can do at this point."
The Padres have lost 11 of 12 overall and 34 of 52 since June 1, when they were 14 games over .500. San Diego's bullpen is worn out, and the Padres have scored just four runs in the first two games of this series, against a staff that had the second-highest ERA in the majors, 5.52, coming into Saturday.
General manager Kevin Towers said David Ross, obtained on Thursday, and Olivo will do the bulk of the catching, freeing up left-handed hitting Robert Fick for pinch-hitting duties. Starting catcher Ramon Hernandez is back on the disabled list after having wrist surgery on Friday.
Towers said the Padres expected to make one more deal before the trading deadline of 4 p.m. EDT Sunday. They've made four trades in seven days as they try to stop their ugly skid.
Harang (7-9), who was born in San Diego and still lives there in the offseason, improved to 3-0 in his career against the Padres. He held them to one run and seven hits, struck out four and walked one.
"It's nice to be able to pitch in front of family and friends and sleep in my own bed," Harang said. "It's nice to be able to come home once in a while."
Harang retired 14 of his final 15 batters.
The Reds have won a season-high four straight, all on the road.
I think for a while there, I guess everyone thought we were just road kill," manager Jerry Narron said.
Valentin got his third RBI of the night when he homered off Scott Linebrink in the ninth, his 10th. It went an estimated 426 feet, the longest homer at Petco Park this year.
The Reds had eight extra-base hits. Adam Dunn, who hit two two-run homers in Friday night's 8-3 win, doubled to right-center leading off the second against Pedro Astacio, and scored on Austin Kearns' triple into the right-center gap.
Casey homered to right on a 3-2 pitch with one out in the fourth, his fifth, for a 2-1 lead.
Cincinnati scored three runs on just one hit in the fifth inning to take a 5-1 lead and chase Astacio (0-2). Astacio issued consecutive walks to Rich Aurilia and Ken Griffey Jr. with one out, then intentionally walked Casey with two outs to load the bases. Kearns walked to force in Aurilia, and Valentin hit a two-run single to right to chase Astacio.
Astacio threw 108 pitches in 4 2/3 innings. He allowed five runs and five hits, walked six and struck out two.
"We've got to keep fighting," Astacio said. "That is the only way to turn it around."
The Reds added two more runs on four straight one-out hits off Paul Quantrill in the sixth. Felipe Lopez hit a leadoff triple to the left-center gap and scored on Aurilia's double to left-center. Aurilia scored on Dunn's single. The Padres got out of the inning when Griffey was thrown out by Ryan Klesko trying to score on Casey's fly out to left.
- The Padres received $6 million from the Texas Rangers in the trade that got them RHP Chan Ho Park for slugger Phil Nevin. Park will join the Padres in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
- The Padres threw out two runners at the plate.
- Kearns left the game with a tight left hamstring after drawing a walk in the fifth.
- Padres RHP Adam Eaton, on the DL since June 16 with a finger injury, threw a simulated game and could be activated on Tuesday. He'll probably pitch from the bullpen at first in order to build his arm back up.
- C Ross made his debut for the Padres, starting against the Reds.
- Harang is 0-for-40, the longest hitless skid for the Reds since Jack Billingham went 0-for-67 in 1973.