Eric Hosmer was supposed to be the San Diego Padres‘ answer to all the questions about whether they’d effectively tank it for the 2018 season.Whether they’d give up all hope of winning now in exchange for getting high draft picks and young talent for finishing well down in the standings and
, possibly, winning big in the future.Teams such as the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox and Miami Marlins made no real effort to go after big-ticket free agents — and, in fact, the Marlins shed the stars they already had in Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna.Article continues below ...But while the Padres were coming off seven consecutive losing seasons, including two with 90-plus losses in 2016 and 2017, they sought to do it a different way.Sure, they were intent on stockpiling younger players and promoting prospects, but also by signing established first baseman Eric Hosmer away from the Kansas City Royals for $144 million over eight years. The idea was to build around an established hitter and proven clubhouse leader who could help promote winning now as well as winning later.But as the Padres go into the fourth and final game of their weekend series between last-place teams against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday at Great American Ball Park, they’re in the same place they were before they signed Hosmer.Fifth and last in the National League West.On Sunday, San Diego starts right-hander Jacob Nix (2-3, 4.85 ERA) against Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle (7-9, 4.95), who makes his first start since being removed from the rotation after a 10-4 loss to the Washington Nationals on Aug. 2, when he gave up six runs in 1 2/3 innings.The Reds won for the second day in a row Saturday, taking a 7-2 decision in a game moved up an hour by a bad weather forecast but cut short by rain in the seventh inning. Joey Votto hit the Reds’ second grand slam in as many days — Scott Schebler hit one during Friday’s 12-6 victory — and Matt Harvey (7- struck out 10 while limiting the Padres to two runs and four hits in six innings.“The guys did a great job of putting up a lot of runs, and the stuff (his pitches) was working pretty good,” Harvey said. “It was one of those days where everything was coming out pretty good, I could tell in the bullpen. … I was able to pretty much settle down and let the pitches work.”The Reds have a club-record 11 grand slams this season. But the Hosmer signing hasn’t been a slam-dunk success for the Padres.They’re already out $25 million for signing Hosmer — a $5 million signing bonus and $20 million salary for 2018 — and they’re on the hook for $20 million more in each of the next four seasons, or before Hosmer could exercise a buyout clause after five seasons.Hosmer is hitting .252, well below the .318 he hit last season for Kansas City. He has 15 home runs after hitting 25 in each of the last two seasons. And he has only 61 RBIs in 547 at-bats, well down from the 97 he averaged for the last three seasons.With only 18 games remaining, he doesn’t have much time to pull up his numbers before the offseason arrives — even though he is 4-for-11 with two home runs and five RBIs in the series.“It’s been tough,” Hosmer told the San Diego Union-Tribune last month. “I just want to help the team win any way I can. I feel like if I’m doing my job and driving in runs, that gives us a really good chance to win ballgames. There is no excuse for it (his season to date). There’s nothing different about what’s happening. I just have to do a better job of getting it done.”The Reds can relate to the Hosmer contract situation, in multiple ways.After they went 90-72 and made the playoffs in 2013, they signed staff ace Homer Bailey to a six-year, $105 million contract. But he has experienced almost nothing but injuries and aggravation since
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, winning only 18 games in the last five seasons. He has been so bad this season, with a 1-14 record and 6.09 ERA, he’s now out of the rotation.And franchise icon Votto turns 35 on Monday, yet the All-Star first baseman is only one season past the halfway point of a 12-year, $251.5 million contract that he signed in April 2012. The Reds went 97-65 that year, the first of successive 90-win seasons. Since 2013, though, they haven’t broken 76 victories even as Votto has produced. He has had five .300 seasons since signing the deal.Perhaps the lesson in all this is that even when a franchise tries to spend money to win, and not take the cheaper and perhaps easier road of a total rebuild with prospects, there’s no guarantee it will succeed.Mahle won his only start against the Padres, allowing five hits in five shutouts innings of a 7-2 victory at San Diego on June 1.Nix will make his sixth career start and has never faced Cincinnati. MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Brewers‘ inconsistent offense couldn’t offset Chase Anderson’s continuing home run struggles.Jose Peraza hit a two-run homer off Anderson in the first inning and the Cincinnati Reds beat Milwaukee 3-1 Tuesday night, the Brewers’ third loss in four games.“The first pitch is just kind of a blooper into center field and then he fell behind Peraza,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “But after six pitches, we’re down 2-0.”The Brewers’ edge for the top NL wild-card spot was cut to two games by St. Louis, with Colorado also in close contention. Milwaukee fell 3 ½ games behind the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs.Milwaukee managed only three hits against five Cincinnati pitchers. It was the third low-scoring loss for the Brewers in four games — they fell to Pittsburgh 3-1 on Saturday and 3-2 on Sunday.“We’re going to have to do a little better than that, for sure,” Counsell said. “More pressure has to be put on the other team. There was nothing really happening tonight. I don’t know if we had a significant rally really all night.”Scott Schebler opened the first with a single to left off Anderson, who has allowed an NL-high 30 home runs. Peraza then connected for his 13th homer.The Brewers made it 2-1 with an unearned run in the second, but the Reds made it 3-1 in the fourth on Schebler’s RBI double.Michael Lorenzen, making his first start since 2015 after 151 relief appearances, allowed one unearned run on one hit in four innings. Sal Romano (8-11) followed with 2 1/3 scoreless innings for the victory.Raisel Iglesias struck out three in the ninth after a leadoff walk for his 28th save.“I’ve been saying, ‘Give me a chance, give me a chance.’ They gave me a chance against a good lineup, so I was excited about that,” said Lorenzen, who has indicated he would like to be a starter. “It was like, ‘Man, you better step up.'”Anderson (9- gave up three runs on six hits with two walks in 3 2/3 innings, matching his shortest start of the season. Six relievers blanked the Reds the rest of the way.“I was just kind of inconsistent where I could throw the ball tonight,” Anderson said. “One inning I felt I could make a pitch
, the next inning I couldn’t. So, it’s just kind of the inconsistency I’ve been battling, I would say, pretty much this whole season.”In the Milwaukee second, Travis Shaw was hit by a pitch and advanced on a groundout. Shaw came around when Schebler bobbled Jonathan Schoop’s single to right.Reds center fielder Mason Williams made a sensational, over-the-shoulder basket catch on Curtis Granderson’s one-out drive to the warning track in the sixth. It prevented a possible run as Christian Yelich followed with a single.“A couple people on the bench thought that ball was gone,” manager Jim Riggleman said. “I didn’t think it was going to go as far as it did. Mase did a great job on it. That one was close. We’re trying to keep it in the ballpark as much as we can. We did a good job of that tonight.”TRAINER’S ROOMReds: RHP Homer Bailey probably will not pitch again this season, Riggleman said. Bailey (1-14, 6.09 ERA) was removed from the rotation after his last start Sept. 5, and has indicated he can’t relieve. … RHP Tyler Mahle, bothered by right shoulder fatigue, is not ready to start Sunday, Riggleman said.Brewers: Shaw was hit on the left knee by a pitch to open the second and was down for several minutes in the batter’s box. After being examined by the trainer, Shaw remained in the game. He came around to score the Brewers’ first run, but left in the fourth inning with a right knee contusion. “They did X-rays, nothing there, just a contusion,” Counsell said. “But, it stiffened up and he wasn’t able to move around.” … CF Lorenzo Cain left was removed after striking out in the fourth. “He took a swing a couple days ago that just kind of intercostal, it’s just been bugging him a little bit,” Counsell said. “I just thought he took some swing tonight in the second at-bat that just didn’t look good, and so we took him out of the game. We’ll see how we’re looking tomorrow.”UP NEXTReds: RHP Matt Harvey (7-8, 4.67 ERA), whom the Brewers had tried to acquire in August, starts the series finale on Wednesday night. Harvey, obtained in May from the Mets, is 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA in his last seven starts. His 26 starts are his most since 2015.Brewers: LHP Gio Gonzalez (8-11, 4.44 ERA) celebrates his 33rd birthday Wednesday with his third start for Milwaukee since being acquired from Washington on Aug. 31. Gonzalez is 1-0 with the Brewers, allowing three earned runs in 10 1/3 innings after going 7-11 with the Nationals.