CHICAGO -- For most of the eighth inning Tuesday, Will Venable stood only a few feet off third base, his hands firmly planted on his hips as he tried to catch his breath after his run-scoring triple earlier in the inning pulled the Padres to within a run of the Cubs.
Even as scoring runs has become a monumental chore for these Padres, Venable was certain he wouldn't be left standing at third base three outs later, frustrated after another potential scoring opportunity had evaporated on a warm afternoon at Wrigley Field.
"To have a runner on third with no outs ... and we've got [Chris] Denorfia, [Yonder] Alonso and [Carlos] Quentin coming up," Venable said. "... I'm taking my chances with that."
Instead, Chicago reliever Shawn Camp wiggled out of that hairy situation and the Cubs went on for a 5-3 victory over the Padres before a crowd of 35,219.
For the Padres (17-34), the loss dropped them to 1-8 on their current 10-game road swing. The means by which they fell certainly felt all too familiar for a team that ranks last among 30 Major League teams with a .191 average with runners in scoring position.
To be sure, the Padres did some good things Tuesday -- Quentin, playing in his second game after missing the first 49 while recovering from knee surgery -- had a double in the second inning and then added a home run to start the fifth. He later added a single in the seventh.
Pitcher Eric Stults (1-1) opened the game with four scoreless innings before eventually pitching into the seventh. He allowed four runs, though reliever Brad Brach allowed one of Stults' runs to score on a wild pitch.
Where this game fell apart, and where so many others have during this trying season, was in the eighth inning, when the Padres managed to chase Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija (5-3) from the game.
Andy Parrino opened the frame with a single off Samardzija and was nearly lapped by the speedy Venable, who sent a breaking ball the other way into the left-field corner that Alfonso Soriano, hobbled by pain in his left knee, was slow getting to.
Venable had but one thought: Get to third base. There, with no outs and the Padres trailing, 4-3, he would be able to score the tying run, especially with the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 hitters due up.
It didn't happen.
The Cubs (17-32) replaced Samardzija with Camp, who got Denorfia on a comebacker for the first out. With the infield pulled in, the next batter, Alonso, lined a ball toward Cubs first baseman Jeff Baker, who made a nice diving catch for the second out.
"Yonder hit a bullet," Padres manager Bud Black said. "There's nothing you can do on that."
That brought up Quentin, who to that point had three extra-base hits in his first seven at-bats since being reinstated from the disabled list before Monday's game.
"In a situation like that, you just try to limit the damage. After I was able to get that ground ball back to me, that's a situation where you can kind of go for the jugular there," Camp said.
After missing with two pitches, Camp went to the slider and left it essentially out over the outer third of the plate. Quentin took a big swing at it but just missed putting the barrel on it as he got out a little too far on his front foot, flying out to Soriano in left field to end the inning.
"He had a shot at the end," Black said of Quentin. "He was a little out front."
Said Venable of the missed opportunity: "That won't happen again."
But the reality for the Padres, who have been shut out three times on this road trip, is that it does keep happening.
"It seems like we're just one hit or one pitch away," Black said. "We've talked about it all year. We have pitched well enough to stay in games. We've got to hit. Our guys are aware of it. The guys we presently have here need to get better at it."
The Padres had nine hits, three from Quentin and even one from Stults, who doubled the other way to the gap in left-center in the sixth inning. After Venable grounded out, Denorfia then sent a soft liner to left field. Stults broke on contact, knowing that Soriano has been hobbled by the knee injury.
"Great read," Black said of Stults.
But Soriano, with his bad knee and all, raced in and made a diving catch and doubled Stults off second base to end the inning. Another opportunity lost.
"My reaction was it was going to drop," Stults said. "I saw [third-base coach Glenn Hoffman's] face as I rounded third. ... When I got to home plate, the Cubs were trotting off the field."