WASHINGTON -- Livan Hernandez's manager and teammates weren't all that worried when they saw their ace toss a glove, cap and jacket into the stands after being lifted in the sixth inning Friday night.
Nope, the Washington Nationals were far more concerned about letting a lead slip away in yet another one-run loss deep in the season, this one a 6-5 defeat to the San Diego Padres on an unearned run in the ninth inning.
Hernandez left in line for the victory, with Washington up 5-4. He at first shrugged off his apparent display of frustration. The discarded glove? "A souvenir," he said.
A few moments later, Hernandez said he wasn't angry with manager Frank Robinson for taking him out of the game.
"I'm not mad at nobody. It's me. I'm a fighter, so I don't like to lose. I'm better than that," he said. "If I pitched better, I had a chance to win. Sometimes when it doesn't happen, you need to be mad."
The Padres tied it in the eighth on Eric Young's RBI single off Gary Majewski. And San Diego went ahead by scoring off closer Chad Cordero (2-3) -- Washington's sixth pitcher -- after leadoff batter Mark Sweeney reached on shortstop Cristian Guzman's fielding error.
"It's a tough one to kind of swallow," Cordero said.
The loss was Washington's 12th straight in a one-run game. San Diego improved to 20-11 in such contests, and it was just the NL West leader's fifth victory in 48 games when trailing after seven innings.
"We were looking at one of our more difficult losses," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "Man, they fought and scratched for a couple of runs late."
The comeback made a winner of Scott Linebrink (5-1), who threw two hitless innings. Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his 28th save, his 12th scoreless appearance in a row.
Hernandez labored through each of his 5 2/3 innings, matching his shortest appearance since April.
The big right-hander allowed four runs and a season-high 12 hits, along with two walks and a wild pitch. Robinson removed him after 93 pitches -- which is not much of a workload for Hernandez, who threw 150 in one start this season and is on pace to lead the NL in innings for a third consecutive year.
"This game had no signs of any game he's pitched this year," Robinson said, adding that anyone could see "that Livan Hernandez was not right tonight."
The pitcher has been bothered by a painful right knee that had to be drained in May, but he hasn't allowed the problem to keep him from making every scheduled start. After his last loss, though, a 3-2 defeat against the Rockies on July 20, Hernandez said he was "99.9 percent" sure he might decide to have season-ending surgery. The next day, Hernandez said he wouldn't miss a start, his words had been misconstrued, and he had been speaking in the heat of the moment.
He gave up three hits in the first inning, a hit in the second, two hits and two walks in the third, Dave Roberts' homer in the fourth, three hits in the fifth, and two more hits in the sixth.
"Some guys throw bats, hats, gloves, coolers. It's just letting off steam," said backup catcher Gary Bennett, who put the Nationals ahead 5-4 with a two-run single in the fifth off Padres starter Woody Williams. "He wears his emotions on his sleeve. I don't think anyone in this clubhouse is concerned."
In the ninth, Sweeney moved to third on Mark Loretta's single, then scored when Robert Fick hit a blooper to center.
"You can't make these games up now," Robinson said.
Nationals RF Jose Guillen, who said an hour before the game he wouldn't play because of an injured left (non-throwing) shoulder, was in the starting lineup. He threw out Loretta at the plate in the fifth. ... Padres OF Ryan Klesko sat out a third straight game with a strained back.