Then the son of a former Red took over. Rookie Will Venable hit a three-run homer to help Tim Stauffer earn his first win in almost three years and San Diego romped to a 7-4 win over reeling Cincinnati.
Venable, whose father, Max, played for the Reds in the mid-1980s, drove in a career-high four runs and had four hits as the Padres picked up a third consecutive win for the first time since they won 10 straight from May 15-25. He only had five RBIs in 38 games this season coming into the game.
"My dad always pays attention to the box scores," Venable said. "It's nice to contribute. At times, it feels close. At other times, it feels far away. It helps to have my dad just a phone call away, so he can let me know about the ups and downs."
"It's a good win," said the right-handed Stauffer, who missed the entire 2008 season after having shoulder surgery. "We battled. It made it a lot easier to pitch when they put those runs on the board. I was feeling a lot more confident."
Manager Bud Black believed pitching was the key to the Padres winning a series for the first time since winning two out of three June 26-28 at Texas. They finished the season with six wins in seven games against the Reds.
"We got three well-pitched games," Black said. "That took the pressure off the offense."
Adam Rosales hit a three-run pinch-hit homer in the ninth for the Reds, who have lost nine of their last 10 games and 11 of 14 since the All-Star break to fall a season-high 11 games under .500 at 45-56.
Rosales, whose homer was his first in 105 at bats since a 13-5 win at Arizona on May 11, hopes his blast can help the Reds snap their slump.
"It's definitely a grind," he said. "You've got to be able to show up every day. The key here is to stay together as a team. At the beginning of the season, the hitters were picking up the pitchers and the pitchers were picking up the hitters. That's how it works. In order to be successful, that's how it has to happen. We still have two months left. That's a lot of games -- a lot of opportunities to make strides."
The Padres scored in the first inning for the third consecutive game as Kevin Kouzmanoff drove in Rodriguez with a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead. They increased the lead to 2-0 in the second when Kyle Blanks scored from third base on Henry Blanco's double-play ball.
The Reds got on the board in the fourth on back-to-back leadoff doubles by Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, who singled in the second to snap his streak of consecutive hitless at bats at 10. San Diego immediately got that run back in the fifth as Kouzmanoff scored from first base on Headley's two-out double to right-center field. Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto hit Blanks with a pitch, and Venable followed with his second homer of the season.
"He has a ton of ability and upside," Black said. "He played four years in college at Princeton, and he's just got to keep playing. He'll get plenty of chances."
Cueto (8-8) allowed nine hits and six runs with two walks and three strikeouts in five innings while falling to 0-4 in five starts since a 1-0 win over Arizona on July 1. Cueto was a victim of bad luck, manager Dusty Baker said.
"They found every hole on the field," Baker said. "They were wearing the hole out between first and second."
Venable added an RBI single in the seventh before flying out in the ninth.
The Reds announced after the game that right-hander Justin Lehr will be called up from Triple-A Louisville on Friday to start against Colorado. Lehr will start in place of injured right-hander Micah Owings. ... Plate umpire Jerry Crawford warned Reds relief pitcher Carlos Fisher and both benches after Fisher hit Stauffer with the first pitch of the six innings. ... Outfielder Willy Taveras was scratched from Cincinnati's original starting lineup with a sore left wrist. ... Outfielder Wladimir Balentien, acquired Wednesday by the Reds from Seattle for right-hander Robert Manuel, arrived in Cincinnati early Thursday morning and was in uniform.