SAN DIEGO — Everybody is closing the door on Padre players these days, even Manager Larry Bowa.
After the Padres lost, 6-3, Friday to the Cubs, Bowa had closed-door meetings with three players.
First, it was pitcher Storm Davis. Then, second baseman Joey Cora. Finally, catcher Benito Santiago.
Cora and Santiago simply were told to hold their heads up. Cora was hitless in four at-bats and Santiago made two throwing errors.
Davis was told something different. He is being demoted to the bullpen and will be replaced in the starting rotation by Dave Dravecky.
"If you follow (Davis') starts, he gives us three to four good innings at a time," Bowa said. "I think the kid's trying hard, maybe too hard. I think if he comes in when we're behind, he'll say we have nothing to lose and air it out."
Bowa had blasted pitcher Andy Hawkins Thursday, but he talked quietly to reporters Friday while discussing Davis.
When Davis left Bowa's office, he had a somber look on his face. He did not talk to reporters.
Cora was next.
"He's trying to make us relax, that's all," Cora said. "He didn't say anything bad. He made the point we'd turn it around sooner or later. If it doesn't happen now, it's going to happen next year. Some day, we'll laugh at this. We'll say, 'Remember when it was bad?' "
Davis knows what bad is. Friday, in front of a Cap Night crowd of 46,533 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, he became the third Padre pitcher in four games to last fewer than five innings.
Chicago's Rick Sutcliffe (5-2) became the league's first five-game winner, allowing three runs on eight hits through 7 innings. Lee Smith earned his league-leading eighth save by retiring all four batters he faced.
Padre pitchers should be so fortunate.
Thursday, Hawkins had pitched three hitless innings against St. Louis. He didn't make it through the fourth.
Friday, Davis pitched four hitless innings. He didn't get an out in the fifth before Dravecky replaced him.
Davis' statistics: Four-plus innings, two hits, five runs, three earned, five walks, three strikeouts and one wild pitch.
His performance was the norm for Padre starters, who have a 5-18 record and 5.28 earned-run average. Davis is 1-5 with a 5.82 ERA.
Things started off on a bright note for the Padres.
John Kruk led off the second with a single to center and advanced to third on Santiago's hit-and-run single.
Sutcliffe faked two throws to third. The second time, Santiago wandered too far off first and was tagged out in a rundown.
Luis Salazar followed with a fly to center, scoring Kruk.
That was to be San Diego's only lead.
In the fifth, the Cubs erased Davis' no-hit bid and the Padres' chance for a victory.
After Keith Moreland walked, Shawon Dunston reached base on a fielding error by third baseman Salazar. Dave Martinez singled to center, loading the bases.
With Sutcliffe batting, the runners advanced on a wild pitch, with Moreland tying the score. Then, after Davis went 2-2 on Sutcliffe, he walked the pitcher to again load the bases.
Ryne Sandberg followed with a 20-foot single up the first-base line. Santiago made a wild throw to first on the play, allowing Martinez to score the Cubs' third run.
Davis then walked Jerry Mumphrey, loading the bases for the third time with no outs.
That was all for Davis. Dravecky came on.
Andre Dawson hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Sutcliffe. With two outs, Jody Davis singled home Sandberg.
The Padres got a run when Tony Gwynn had his third consecutive hit, a two-out double to left in the sixth. Carmelo Martinez singled to left, scoring Gwynn.
Chicago scored in the top of the seventh to lead, 6-2.
Sandberg led off with a walk, advancing to third on a hit-and-run single to right by Mumphrey. Sandberg scored on Dawson's double play ball.
The Padres finally chased Sutcliffe in the eighth.
Randy Ready led off with a triple to right-center. Cora struck out, then Ready scored on Stan Jefferson's grounder to second.
After Gwynn walked, Smith came on to retire Martinez on a popup to short.
Pitcher Andy Hawkins and Manager Larry Bowa discussed their differences before Friday's game. Hawkins had criticized Bowa's strategy during Sunday's game in Chicago. Bowa criticized Hawkins after Hawkins allowed six runs in 3 innings Thursday. "We met today and got things resolved," Hawkins said. "He understands where I'm coming from, and I understand where he's coming from. Ironically, we're going in the same direction. We went about things in different ways. As far as I'm concerned, it's over." Said Bowa: "We got it squared away. It's done. Whatever happened is over with."
. . . Pitcher Tom Gorman was placed on the 21-day disabled list Friday with tendinitis in his arm. The Padres had attempted to send Gorman to Las Vegas, but an injured player cannot be sent to the minor leagues.