PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates played in front of this season's 14th sold-out crowd on Saturday, a testament to the city embracing a team in its success. No Bucs team had played in front of that many sellouts since 2001, when there were 19. The crowd of 39,251 was the 10th assembly of 39,000 or more -- in the history of the park before 2011, there'd been three. It was the seventh straight sold-out Saturday.
For the past few nights, though, the cheers of the large crowds have been largely sarcastic.
The Bucs lost their ninth straight game Saturday in a 13-2 thrashing by San Diego. They've now lost 11 of their last 12 games, and have lost the last two by double digits.
From early June to late July, the Pirates were 8-0-1 in series at home. In their last nine games at PNC, they've gone 1-8. The loss Saturday ensured their third straight series loss.
"These are the same guys that were lighting some things up, and people were cheering for," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Right now we're battling all over the place."
Paul Maholm took the loss after allowing seven runs on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. It was the most earned runs he'd allowed this season.
"I think everybody on the field was pressing," Maholm said. "My job was to get deep into the game. Unfortunately I gave up a bunch of runs. I didn't pitch well. I was hoping to save the bullpen as much as possible and go a little longer than I did."
The Padres put the game out of reach with a six-run seventh inning that included Kyle Blanks' first career grand slam, off of reliever Chris Resop. Blanks has two home runs this season, both in this series.
Resop allowed one run in two innings against the Cubs on Wednesday; this was his first outing since then.
"You're looking for velocity, you're looking for sharpness," Hurdle said. "We've got some guys who, for whatever reason, when they've had some time down haven't come back as sharp as you hope that they would."
The Padres, who averaged 3.46 runs per game entering the series, have scored 28 runs in the past two games against the Pirates. San Diego has two grand slams this season. Both have come against the Pirates.
"They're swinging the bats hot, they're finding holes, they capitalized on every opportunity to score some runs," Hurdle said.
Matt Diaz led off the fourth inning with a double and scored when Neil Walker singled in the next at-bat. It was the first of only two runs for the Pirates, who have lost by double digits in each of the past two nights. In his seven innings, Padres starter Cory Luebke struck out nine batters, a career high. He did not issue a walk. His win snapped a three-game losing streak.
"Tonight, we got ahead [in the count]," Luebke said. "It wasn't like I had been pitching bad, but I wasn't putting guys away."
San Diego scored two runs on two hits in the second inning and added three more runs in the fourth. Orlando Hudson began the second inning with a single and scored when a Blanks hit got past left fielder Ryan Ludwick for a triple. Blanks then scored on a sacrifice fly.
Hudson began the fourth with another single and scored on a two-run double by Rob Johnson, who then stole third and scored on an infield single by Cameron Maybin.
"Whenever it's going bad, it's going bad," Maholm said. "Tonight, besides the one inning, I really didn't think they hit the ball hard. It was a lot of finding the holes."
The Padres added two more in the eighth inning off of reliever Joe Beimel. Pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe led off with a double and scored on a ground out from Jason Bartlett. Maybin, who'd reached on an error by Ronny Cedeno, scored on a single by Jesus Guzman. That run was unearned. Cedeno had two errors on the night, and has had three in the past two games.
"It seems it gets real hard for somebody different every night," Hurdle said. "We have to keep covering for one another and keep fighting through it."
After the loss, the players had a meeting to discuss the losing streak. Maholm said the message inside the meeting was simple.
"It was just hey, it sucks right now," he said. "Losing nine's no fun for anybody. Nobody's throwing a pity party for us."
Laura Myers is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.