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SD@PHI: Venable tags Halladay for a leadoff homer

PHILADELPHIA -- The mere sight of Tyson Ross struggling on Thursday night hardly resonated with manager Bud Black, mostly because it had been so long since he had seen the Padres' starting pitcher scuffle so badly.

"I saw Adam Wainwright give up nine runs a while back in a game against the Reds," Black said. "Adam Wainwright is a pretty damn good pitcher. So is Tyson Ross. It happens to the best of them."

Ross, who had been the most dependable pitcher in the team's rotation during the second half, got only two outs before being lifted as the Phillies scored six runs en route to a 10-5 win over the Padres before a crowd of 29,986 at Citizens Bank Park.

In a game that was delayed at the outset by 55 minutes because of rain, Ross' good stuff never arrived for his start against the Phillies (68-78), as he opened the game by allowing five consecutive hits.

"It wasn't a good outing by me at all," Ross said. "Today, I wasn't able to minimize the damage and Buddy had to come out in the first."

Ross entered the game with a 2.16 ERA in nine starts since he went back into the rotation in July. He was coming off a start where he tossed seven scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Rockies.

Which is why Ross and the Padres were treating this poor start as more of an outlier than anything else.

"It wasn't his night at all," Black said. "It started with a checked-swing, infield chopper. The next three hitters, he fell behind and threw some fastballs to the middle part of the plate. He couldn't make that one pitch to limit the damage."

Ross allowed singles to Cesar Hernandez (three hits), Jimmy Rollins and then an RBI single to Chase Utley for a 1-0 lead. Carlos Ruiz, who had three hits and drove in three runs, had a two-run double. Darrin Ruf followed with an RBI single. Ross walked Cody Asche, but then appeared to settle down, as he struck out Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis.

But the final straw occurred when he walked his counterpart, Roy Halladay, to force in a run after being ahead in the count, 1-2. In all, Ross threw 41 pitches in the first inning, getting two outs.

"Anytime you walk the pitcher, you're not happy about it," Ross said. "Looking back on it, that's the one thing I regret. I get him out and maybe I come back out in the second."

Like Ross, Black felt the Halladay at-bat was critical.

"If he does [get Halladay out], it's a 3-1 game," Black said. "That was critical there. That was a big one. I had to go get him."

Despite being staked to a big lead early, Halladay struggled with his command as well. In position for the victory, Halladay couldn't finish the fifth inning. In fact, he walked four consecutive hitters, one to Chase Headley that forced in a run.

"He just seemed to lose control of the strike zone. He seemed to be just missing with pitches. He had three chances to get a ground ball, get a double play and get through that inning," said Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg.

San Diego rookie first baseman Tommy Medica, who got his first Major League home run on Wednesday, followed with an infield single that Halladay threw away, allowing two runs to score. Medica had a double earlier in the game and now has three hits in his first two big league games.

"Halladay's tough, but we laid off some borderline pitches," Black said. "It's 7-5 in the fifth and we're back in the game. We felt pretty good about it. But we didn't pitch [well] after that. We didn't pitch well the whole game."

Mark Kotsay added a sacrifice fly to center field, cutting the Phillies lead to 7-5. But the Phillies scored twice in the bottom of the fifth inning off Padres reliever Tim Stauffer for a four-run cushion.

"It was good to see us get back in the game like that," said Jedd Gyorko, who had one of the walks in the inning against Halladay. "That's all you can really ask for."

As for Halladay, he was left with a no-decision, allowing five earned runs on four hits with five walks and also six strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.

The Padres started fast on Thursday, as leadoff hitter Will Venable hit the third pitch of the game into the right-field seats for his 22nd home run of the season and the ninth leadoff home run of his career.

But that lead proved to be short-lived, as Ross uncharacteristically struggled in the bottom of the inning.

"I'm looking forward to getting past this," Ross said.

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