The San Diego Padres are quickly running out of chances to stay in the playoff race.They shoul;dn’t look for any sympathy from either the Cubs or Cub Fans.Alfonso Soriano hit two home runs, including a two-run shot off struggling San Diego ace Mat Latos, and the Chicago Cubs won 5-2 on Tuesday night to drop the wilting Padres 1½ games behind Atlanta in the NL wild-card race.The 22-year-old Latos, who fumed after the Cubs scored two unearned runs in the fifth, lost his fourth consecutive start, his worst stretch this season.Padres have lost 21 of 32 games since Aug. 25, when they were 76-49 and had a 6½-game lead on the Giants in the NL West. The Padres dropped two games behind the Giants, who beat Arizona 4-2 to reduce their magic number to four for clinching the division. After two more games against the Cubs, the Padres will close the season with three games at San Francisco.The Padres were four-hit for the second successive night, this time by Ryan Dempster and two relievers. Dempster (15-11) struck out nine in seven innings. Carlos Marmol pitched the ninth for his 36th save in 41 chances, and his 20th since the All-Star break.The Padres lost 1-0 to Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs on Monday night.Before his skid, Latos (14-9) set a major-league record with 15 consecutive starts of five or more innings with two or fewer runs allowed. In his past four starts, he has allowed 18 earned runs in 16 innings (10.13 ERA), and hasn’t made it out of the sixth inning.With the score tied at 2 and Xavier Nady aboard on a leadoff single in the sixth, Soriano homered into the Padres’ bullpen beyond the fence in left-center. It was his 23rd. Latos got Blake DeWitt to fly out to left, then was hit on the right calf by Koyie Hill’s comebacker, which went for an infield single. Latos stayed in the game, allowed Dempster’s sacrifice bunt and then was pulled in favor of lefty Joe Thatcher, who got the final out. Soriano connected again on a full-count pitch from Mike Adams leading off the eighth.Latos allowed four runs, two earned, and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked two.A Padres’ defensive meltdown led to the Cubs scoring two unearned runs in the fifth. Latos barehanded Hill’s one-out bunt but dropped it for an error. Dempster’s sacrifice advanced Hill, who scored on Kosuke Fukudome’s double to left-center. Starlin Castro beat out an infield single deep in the hole at shortstop as Miguel Tejada tried to make a twisting, off-balance throw. The ball skipped past sprawling first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and into the Padres’ dugout, allowing Fukudome to score.Black agreed, saying Latos should have gloved the ball.An upset Latos was yelling at someone in the dugout after the inning.San Diego’s Nick Hundley tied it at 2 with a 398-foot home run on a full-count pitch from Dempster into the second deck in left field, his eighth. Chase Headley was aboard on a one-out walk.Moments after connecting, Hundley tried to calm down Latos in the dugout.At nearly the exact moment Hundley connected, Juan Uribe hit a trying solo home run leading off the fourth to pull the Giants into a 2-2 tie.Dempster allowed four hits and walked two. The Padres had two runners on and no outs in the seventh before Dempster struck out the side.
NOTES—Padres OF Will Venable missed his second successive start with a sore lower back, similar to the injury that landed him on the DL earlier this season……Dempster struck out nine for the fifth time this season. He became the third Canadian-born pitcher with at least three 15-win seasons. The others are Fergie Jenkins (10) and Russ Ford (3)…..The Cubs, fifth in the NL Central, improved to 16-8 in September.