MLB

Burch Smith struggles in final start for Padres

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP)

Burch Smith may still be in the mix for a spot in the San Diego Padres rotation next year, even after his worst outing since being called up from the minors.

The rookie right-hander has a few things to clean up first - control of his fastball, better use of his off-speed pitches.

With 42 strikeouts in 31 innings, though, it's clear why the Padres like Smith.

''He's in the mix,'' said San Diego manager Bud Black after the Padres' 7-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Friday night.

''He's made a lot of progress in a short period of time. He's got a major league arm, but he has to make major league pitches.''

Smith (1-3) allowed six runs and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings. He walked three and struck out eight before leaving after giving up a two-out single to Juan Perez in the sixth.

''I left some pitches up and over the middle of the plate and they did with them what they are supposed to do with them,'' Smith said. ''I kept trying to pitch as deep into the game as I could. A couple of bad pitches and they capitalized.''

Chris Denorfia singled and scored twice for the Padres, who lost for the sixth time in seven games at San Francisco's waterfront ballpark.

The Padres had won two straight before falling into a tie with the Giants with two games left. Both teams are 17 games out of first place in the NL West.

Hunter Pence hit his career-best 26th home run, while Brandon Belt and Perez also homered for the Giants in the first game of the season-ending series between teams trying to stay out of the cellar in the NL West.

Ryan Vogelsong (4-6) gave up a pair of runs in the first three innings and had to pitch out of a two-on, two-out jam in the sixth to win for the first time since Aug. 25.

''Good for him, how he finished,'' San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. ''I was happy for Vogey bouncing back from a rough start, to come back and throw like that.''

The Giants' right-hander, who missed more than 2 1/2 months after breaking bones near the pinkie of his pitching hand on a swing in May, allowed five hits over six innings. He walked four and struck out three.

San Francisco is trying to close out its season on a strong note after struggling nearly all season. The defending World Series champs (75-85) are guaranteed of their worst finish since going 72-90 in 2008.

Tommy Medica's RBI single in the first inning gave the Padres an early lead.

San Francisco answered with three home runs to go in front for good.

Perez's home run, a two-out line drive to left after Pablo Sandoval walked, made it 2-1.

After Denorfia walked and scored in the third to tie it, Belt hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning. Two batters later, Pence snapped an 0-for-27 skid with his blast to give the Giants a 5-2 lead.

Gregor Blanco's bases-loaded walk in the sixth forced in Brandon Crawford to make it 6-2.

''Three home runs hurt (Smith),'' Black said. ''We were still in the ballgame at 5-2, but then was a breakdown there with the bullpen at the end when they got some more runs off our younger relievers.''

San Diego loaded the bases in the eighth, but reliever Santiago Casilla struck out Jesus Guzman then got Nick Hundley to ground into a 1-2-3 double play.

Pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe homered in the ninth off Javier Lopez for San Diego.

NOTES: Padres closer Huston Street was given the night off. ... San Diego backup catcher Rene Rivera has left the team to join his wife in Puerto Rico for the birth of twins. ... Because of a day game after a night game, Chris Robinson will start at catcher for the Padres on Saturday. ... Members of the America's Cup-winning Oracle Team USA attended the game.

Tagged: Padres, Giants, Chris Denorfia

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