SAN DIEGO -- If there was any blame to be cast after the Padres' 3-1 loss to the Cardinals on Monday, Heath Bell wanted it all.
Bell took the mound in the ninth inning of a 1-1 ballgame and, before long, uncharacteristically surrendered two runs -- one on a Daniel Descalso hit through the hole at second base and the other scoring Descalso on Ryan Theriot's single to right field.
"I blew the game, plain and simple," Bell said. "You can't blame anybody. You can't blame the hitting. You can't blame the defense. You can't blame anybody, but you can blame me.
"Simple fact, I didn't do my job."
Bell (2-1) was understandably upset following the loss to the Cardinals (29-20). The All-Star closer had only allowed two earned runs in his previous 16 appearances this season. In one night, he equaled that.
This performance came after the pitching staff had likely grown accustomed to answering questions about run support, the day after the Padres (19-29) held a team meeting to tighten up their game, and directly after Padres reliever Mike Adams struck out two batters with a runner in scoring position in the eighth inning, one of which was nine-time All-Star Albert Pujols.
Bell wanted all the responsibility.
"There is no frustration level for this ballclub," Bell said. "Me, for not doing my job, is probably really high right now. This ballclub did their job. Twenty-four guys on this team did their job."
Despite losing their fourth straight game, the Padres did play a more complete game than when they were swept by the Mariners over the weekend -- it just wouldn't show as well on the scoreboard.
The Padres ran into some good pitching Monday night. Right-hander Kyle Lohse pitched eight innings and allowed one earned run on five hits. Lohse (6-2) struck out five batters and walked one.
"He's got a very good slider," said Padres catcher Rob Johnson. "Any time you have that slider you don't have to be as perfect with your fastball, because that's always in the back of our minds. We battled and we got a run on the board against him, which was a big run."
The Padres really did have to battle for runs against Lohse and the Cardinals. Nothing came easy, just ask San Diego left fielder Ryan Ludwick.
Ludwick, the former Cardinal, hit a deep fly ball to center field in the first inning that had the distance to go out. But Colby Rasmus made a leaping catch with his back to the wall to steal what would have been Ludwick's ninth home run.
It took a second for those at PETCO Park to realize that Rasmus had made the catch, because he caught it behind the wall.
"It was kinda weird," Rasmus said. "Everybody was looking at me. Luddy was staring me down. I felt kind of bad. I know Luddy pretty well, played with him a couple of years. I think he probably wasn't happy I made that catch."
Ludwick didn't hit safely in the game and snapped his 10-game hitting streak.
Runs didn't come easily once again, but the Padres gave themselves more chances. San Diego had three leadoff doubles in the game but only one of them manufactured a run, that one coming in the seventh inning.
Third baseman Chase Headley led off the inning with a double down the right-field line, and center fielder Cameron Maybin followed up Headley's double with a single that trickled out in front of the plate.
Orlando Hudson hit into a fielder's choice to Pujols at first, and the Cardinals caught Headley in a pickle from third base, and he was tagged out. Maybin made it to third on the play, and pinch-hitter Jorge Cantu's sacrifice fly scored him from third.
Perhaps lost in the game's ending was the performance of San Diego starting pitcher Dustin Moseley. Moseley gained a no-decision, exiting the game after seven innings with a 1-1 tie.
Moseley allowed only five hits. The Cardinals' lone run scored on the right-hander was Pujols' eighth home run of the season. Pujols' bomb snapped a stretch of 105 at-bats and 119 plate appearances without a home run -- the longest, in both cases, of his career.
"His sinker in was incredible," catcher Rob Johnson said of Moseley. "He had a lot of movement on the ball. His cutter was awesome, and he changed his grip on his changeup and he used that a lot. It was very effective for him tonight."
Despite losing in the final inning, the loss, the fourth in a row for the Padres, had a different feel to it than the other three.
"We competed. I thought we didn't just lose that game, they beat us, and you can sleep better at night when that happens," Johnson said. "We competed against them, they know they had their hands full. Obviously we ended up on the losing side, which is not good ever, but we competed."
Mark Thompson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.