The Padres have dropped eight straight games

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25-year-old Cory Luebke didn’t have the easiest of assignments Friday night against the Rockies. Not only was he making his major league debut, he was being asked to stop the bleeding of a seven-game losing streak. No pressure or anything.

Luebke was predictably a little shaky, giving up a pair of two-run homers over five innings while walking two, hitting a batter and committing a fielding error. Edward Mujica, Mike Adams and Ernesto Frieri followed with seven strikeouts over four innings of hitless ball, but it wasn’t enough. The Padres lost 4-3 and have now dropped eight consecutive games.

Chase Headley told Corey Brock of MLB.com that it’s hard to point to any one thing as the reason for recent skid.

“The frustrating part of this is that we haven’t been playing bad
baseball in this streak,” Headley said. “It’s been one little thing that
can change the game.”

Headley is staying positive, but it’s not really a mystery. As David Pinto of Baseball Musings tells us, the Padres have batted .220 over the course of the streak, including .174 with runners in scoring position. The team’s pitching hasn’t been awful, but their opponents have batted .410 with runners in scoring position.

The Padres were 6 1/2 games up on the Giants on August 25. They’re now three games up with 29 left to play. Fortunately for the Padres, the Giants lost Friday night, so they didn’t lose any more ground. Jon Garland will try to snap the streak when he opposes Jason Hammel later this afternoon.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.