SAN DIEGO -- Yu Darvish continued his struggles against an even lighter-hitting Padres lineup than usual on Saturday night, as the Dodgers lost 7-2 and got swept in both ends of the doubleheader at Petco Park.
“I know the best of Yu Darvish is yet to come,” manager Dave Roberts said earlier Saturday.
The Dodgers are still waiting.
On Saturday night, the Padres tagged Darvish for four runs in the third inning, including six straight batters reaching base in the frame. That included the fourth home run of the season by Carlos Asuaje, singles by Erick Aybar (hitting .226/.294/.345 entering Saturday) and Hector Sanchez (.236/.291/.491; okay, that’s not that bad, but he was playing first base), and an intentional walk to Rule 5 pick Luis Torrens (.171/.240/.216).
It took 39 pitches for Darvish to complete the third inning.
He only threw 13 pitches in the fourth, but that was because he only faced two batters and didn’t retire either one, ending his night earlier than he ever exited any start in his career.
Darvish has started five games since joining the Dodgers, and two of them have produced career lows -- he struck out only two on Aug. 16, in addition to Saturday’s innings nadir.
After 20 strikeouts in his first two starts with the Dodgers — both wins -- Darvish has allowed 11 runs in 14 innings, with 14 strikeouts, seven walks and five home runs in three starts since. The Dodgers are trying to get him back mechanically to his pre-surgery form.
“There’s a gap between what I’m working on and what I’m doing on the mound,” Darvish said. “It’s a physical thing, between what I think I’m doing and what I’m actually doing.”
Despite the last three starts, Darvish and the Dodgers still see signs of progress.
“We’re trending the right way,” Roberts said, “though I know the line score doesn’t read that way.
“We’re trying to be a little more efficient … There is no wavering on our belief in him.”
There are four, maybe five starts left for that progress to turn into results.
The Dodgers lost both ends of a doubleheader for the first time since April 20, 2013 against the Orioles in Baltimore. The Dodgers swept one doubleheader and split two since, before Saturday.
Edward Paredes relieved Darvish in the fourth, inheriting a first-and-third, no-out situation, and the left-hander struck out two batters. The 30-year-old rookie has retired 18 of his 19 batters faced this season, including nine strikeouts. He struck out all three batters he faced in pitching both games of the doubleheader.
Fabio Castillo followed to make his major league debut, and struck out Jabari Blash to end the threat. He also pitched a perfect fifth, adding another strikeout. The 28-year-old Castillo spent 11 years in the minors, pitching in 330 minor league games for six different organizations.
Justin Turner continued his torrid weekend, doubling home the Dodgers’ first run in the first inning, then scoring their second run after a third-inning walk. That second run came with the aid of Turner advancing on a pair of wild pitches by Jordan Lyles, who appeared to cross up his catcher, Luis Torrens, both times.
After striking out in his first at-bat on Friday, Turner reached base in six straight plate appearances -- single, single, double, home run, double, walk. That streak ended with a ground out with the bases loaded to end the fourth.
“With JT, the consistency the last four or so days, is really starting the swing the bat the way he has all year,” Roberts said.
Those were the Dodgers’ only two runs against Lyles in his 4⅓ innings of work, despite putting 10 runners on base against him.
The Dodgers go for the series split on Sunday afternoon, with Alex Wood fresh off the disabled list to start the 1:40 p.m. PT game. Jhoulys Chacin starts for the Padres.
Saturday Game 2 particulars
Home run: Carlos Asauaje (4)
WP - Buddy Baumann (1-1): 1⅔ IP, 2 strikeouts
LP - Yu Darvish (8-11): 3+ IP, 8 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts