Padilla had gone at least six innings in his first four starts and three of them qualified as "quality starts." But this one drove his ERA up from 3.12 to 4.97.
"I didn't throw the pitches I wanted to throw," Padilla said. "I failed in trying to throw the pitches I wanted."
The loss leaves the Rangers with a 7-14 record after 21 games while the Tigers are 8-13. The Tigers have won six of their last nine while the Rangers have lost 10 of their last 12.
"I wish I had the answer," outfielder Frank Catalanotto said. "It's getting a little monotonous every single game. We come out and play lethargically. Nothing changes. I wish I had the words to say what it is.
"We need to pitch better, we need to hit better in the clutch. I don't know, it seems like everything is going wrong. We can't get too down. We have to keep our heads up and keep our heads up and keep fighting through it."
Catalanotto gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with his second home run of the season coming off Tigers starter Justin Verlander in the second. But that lead didn't last long.
The Tigers scored two in the second to take the lead, then broke it open with five more in the third. The Rangers never really threatened to close that gap. Josh Hamilton did drive in his team-leading 20th run with a sacrifice fly, but the Rangers were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position against Verlander and four relievers. The Rangers are hitting .202 with runners in scoring position on the season.
Starting pitching had been the Rangers strength, but for the third time in the last five games they had a starter who did not go more than three innings.
"One time it was defense and our pitching was doing well," manager Ron Washington said. "It's moved, it's working its way around and bit us in every area. The guys are still upbeat. They haven't quit. It's still April, we'll get it back together."
Padilla's second-inning troubles started with a one-out walk to Jacque Jones. Edgar Renteria followed with a hard grounder down the first-base line and over the bag. Ben Broussard, the Rangers first baseman, was holding the runner on and had a shot at the ball but it went under his glove. It ended up as a double, putting runners on second and third.
"That was an error," Washington snapped. "A Major League first baseman's got to make that play. You ask Ben and he'll tell you he's got to make that play."
Said Broussard: "Are you asking me if I should make that play? I think I should make every play. But you don't always make every play. I thought it could have been foul. All I know is I work my rear off every day to get better. I'm out here taking ground balls every day and working to get better. Everybody is."
Brandon Inge's grounder to second scored one run and Ramon Santiago doubled to give the Tigers the lead.
Padilla survived further damage that inning, but it was only temporary. With one out in the third, Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera blasted back-to-back home runs. Jacque Jones then tripled and scored on a single by Renteria. Inge forced Renteria with a grounder to third, but Santiago followed with a home run to right to give the Tigers a 7-1 lead.
It was Santiago's first home run since 2003. Padilla ended the inning by getting Clete Thomas on a grounder back to the mound, but that was the end of his night.
"I don't feel bad, it was only one bad outing," Padilla said. "I was doing my best and I'm going to keep doing my best. I'm going to keep working hard for my next outing."
Josh Rupe came in and gave the Rangers four scoreless innings. He tried to get them through the eighth, but the Tigers got to him for three runs and the Rangers needed Wes Littleton to finish it off.
Washington, pitching coach Mark Connor and bullpen coach Dom Chiti met for 20 minutes to discuss their options. Eddie Guardado has to come off the disabled list on Wednesday, Kason Gabbard is uncertain for Saturday because of his back and Rupe is going to be unavailable for at least a few days after throwing 55 pitches on Wednesday night.
Padilla's short outing seemed to leave the Rangers unsure of their next move.
"He just had a bad night," Washington said. "I'm not going to look at it anyway else."