SAN DIEGO — The St. Louis Cardinals were hoping they'd kick off their key West Coast trip with a good effort after a recent slump.
Cameron Maybin and Will Venable had other plans.
Maybin hit a two-run homer, Venable had three RBIs and the San Diego Padres handed the struggling Cardinals an 11-3 loss on Monday night.
"Ugly," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We got a lead, quickly lost it, then couldn't get it stopped. We just had a rough time getting people out."
The loss dropped the Cardinals 9 1/2 games behind first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central. The Reds beat Pittsburgh 4-3 in 14 innings. St. Louis, which has lost four of five, had its lead cut to one game over the idle Los Angeles Dodgers for the second NL wild-card berth.
The Cardinals opened a crucial seven-game road swing that moves to Los Angeles on Thursday for a four-game set against the Dodgers.
Maybin connected for his seventh home run off Jaime Garcia (4-7) that broke a 2-all tie in the fourth inning. Maybin had three hits and scored three runs.
Chris Denorfia tied his career high with four hits and also had two RBIs. Logan Forsythe added three hits to tie his career high as San Diego matched its season best for runs and had 17 hits.
"A bad one," Garcia said. "I didn't get the job done. I was just getting the ball up. They've got a good lineup."
Garcia got pulled after only three innings, giving up four runs on seven hits. The lefty struck out four, walked three and had two wild pitches.
"I liked the fact we had Garcia on the ropes in the first, even though he wiggled out of it," San Diego manager Bud Black said of the Padres loading the bases but not scoring.
"We kept putting the pressure on him and we had a lot of big, two-out hits," he added.
Eric Stults (6-2) allowed three runs on five hits with five strikeouts and a walk in 5 1/3 innings. Stults is 5-0 in seven starts since rejoining the starting rotation on August 6.
San Diego has won 14 of 18 overall and 18 of 24 at home.
The Cardinals had cut the lead to 6-3 when they loaded the bases with one out in the seventh inning. But Dale Thayer, who came in and gave up a single to Carlos Beltran to load the bases, got Matt Holliday to ground into a double play.
Rookie Pete Kozma put the Cardinals ahead on a two-run triple with two outs in the second. Kozma finished with three hits.