Yu Darvish exits start vs. D-backs with injury

PHOENIX — What started with the Padres presumed to be a candidate for the top spot in the National League West when the season began has morphed into an intense competition for one of the league’s Wild Card spots.

Defeats, then, especially during the final months of the season against teams they are supposed to beat, can be troublesome to the Padres. Thursday’s 12-3 loss to the D-backs at Chase Field hurt in more ways than one.

Padres starter Yu Darvish was escorted off the field by head athletic trainer Mark Rogow with what the team called lower back tightness after a short outing against the D-backs on Thursday night at Chase Field. The right-hander was tagged for five runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings, logging 74 pitches in the brief appearance.

How long Darvish will be out of action and whether he will land on the injured list has yet to be determined. But with Chris Paddack (left oblique strain) on the injured list and Ryan Weathers struggling to find his form, the Padres can’t afford to have Darvish miss a start. The club is already considering using career-reliever Craig Stammen, who threw 11 pitches in an appearance on Thursday, in the rotation. Friday’s starter Blake Snell has been inconsistent for most of the season.

With the loss, the Padres, who have lost two in a row, lead the Reds by 3 1/2 games for the final Wild Card spot. Darvish, the staff ace, is presumably the favorite to start the aforementioned Wild Card Game — if the Padres can hold off Cincinnati for the final seven weeks.

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