SAN DIEGO -- Neither a pregame players-only meeting nor the Famous Chicken's fowl humor could keep the NL West-leading San Diego Padres from stumbling to a nine-game losing streak, their longest since 2003.
Maybe Jon Garland's comments will help end a slump that has changed the Padres' position from the best record in the NL to looking over their shoulders in the division.
"Honestly, it seems like we're going out there not to lose a division instead of going out to win a division," Garland said Saturday after the Padres lost 6-2 to the Colorado Rockies, who got three hits and two RBIs from NL batting leader Carlos Gonzalez.
Garland challenged his teammates to end the skid.
"There isn't a single soul in baseball who feels sorry for us, that's going to care about us," Garland said. "Right now, we hit a bad spot and it plays tricks on your mind. This is a game of confidence. If you don't have confidence going out there, it's going to show, and it's showed. We need to find a way to get that confidence back."
Everything seems to have turned for the Padres, who had a 6 1/2-game lead over San Francisco on Aug. 25. Their previous longest losing streak was three games.
They've been outscored 51-21 in the nine games. The Rockies scored all their runs Saturday with two outs. The Padres had their chances and failed to deliver.
"Things aren't going the way they went for five months," manager Bud Black said. "We have to get back to that. We have to get the confidence back. We have to get that swagger back."
Trailing by two, with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning, David Eckstein had to duck out of the way of the first pitch from Rockies reliever Esmil Rogers to keep from being beaned. The ball knocked the bat out of his hands. Umpire D.J. Reyburn immediately signaled foul ball. Rogers struck out Eckstein on two more pitches to end the inning.
"We definitely haven't been getting the breaks," Chase Headley said. "Sometimes you have to make your own luck and we haven't been doing a very good job of that."
The Rockies pulled within 5 1/2 games of the Padres, the closest they've been since July 23. San Diego entered the day with a three-game lead over the San Francisco Giants.
Garland said the Padres "need to put a pounding on somebody. It's tough as a pitcher, on a staff, on a bullpen, when you feel you have to be perfect every pitch, every inning, because we are struggling getting runs."
Garland allowed three runs, two earned, and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked three.
Colorado beat the Padres for the 10th time in 14 games this year, including six of eight at Petco Park.
"We feel great," Gonzalez said. "We all know this team never gives up. We're really good at this time of the year. You've got to make sure you finish strong because anything can happen in the last month. As you can see, they're not playing really good baseball, so they're going to have to play better if they want to make it."
Gonzalez raised his batting average to .335 and extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Todd Helton hit a two-run single off Garland to give the Rockies the lead in the third.
Jason Hammel (10-7) held San Diego to two runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Garland (13-10) got out of a bases-loaded jam in the first and struck out the side in the second before running into trouble in the third. He got the first two outs before Gonzalez walked and Troy Tulowitzki hit a hard shot off Garland's lower left leg that ricocheted into shallow right for a double. Helton followed with a single to right for a 2-1 lead.
Garland got the first two outs of the fifth before loading the bases on Tulowitzki's double to left, an intentional walk to Helton and a walk to Melvin Mora.
After left-hander Joe Thatcher replaced Garland, shortstop Everth Cabrera bobbled a grounder by pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs and his throw to first was too late, allowing Tulowitzki to score for a 3-1 lead.
San Diego pulled within one on Nick Hundley's double with one out in the seventh, then left the bases loaded.
Padres second baseman David Eckstein knocked down Dexter Fowler's grounder up the middle with two outs in the eighth but couldn't make a play, allowing Seth Smith to score. Gonzalez followed with a two-run double to make it 6-2.
"Of all the at-bats he's taken this year, that may be as professional an at-bat in a big situation that I've seen him take," manager Jim Tracy said, lauding Gonzalez for his patience. "That at-bat broke their back."
The Padres took a 1-0 lead with two outs in the first when Ryan Ludwick singled to center and scored on Adrian Gonzalez's double into the right-field corner. Gonzalez thought it was a homer and the umpires reviewed the drive but upheld the original call.
The Padres will skip struggling lefty Wade LeBlanc's next start. The starters for the series against the Dodgers starting Monday night will be Mat Latos, Kevin Correia and rookie Cory Luebke.
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