WASHINGTON– Manuel Margot and Christian Villanueva drove in all three Padres runs, Tyson Ross threw 6 2/3 solid innings, and Brad Hand recorded a five out save to give the Padres a 3-1 victory over the Nationals in D.C.
San Diego improved to 21-30 while Washington fell to 26-22.
Ross strong again
Right-hander Tyson Ross turned in yet another strong start for the Padres on Wednesday, allowing only one run and five hits in 6 2/3 innings against the Washington Nationals.
Ross, who faced the Nationals a little more than two weeks ago at Petco Park, had his A-game from the very beginning; striking out Trea Turner and Bryce Harper in a perfect first inning. It was a sign of things to come. He ended up striking out nine on the afternoon, including Bryce Harper and talented rookie Juan Soto twice.
The 31-year-old, who had allowed four runs in the 6th inning in his prior start against the Nats, held a potent lineup scoreless until the bottom of the 7th. Matt Adams led off the 7th with a 359-foot home run into the bullpen in right field. Ross was removed from the game three batters later, following a two-out pinch-hit single by Andrew Stevenson.
Ross threw 110 pitches (74 for strikes), making it his 5th straight start in which he has thrown more than 100 pitches. That is the longest streak of the veteran starter’s career. Of his 110 pitches, 52 of them were sliders. He induced 18 swinging strikes on the day.
“He was outstanding,” stated manager Andy Green. “I have said that over and over every time he takes the mound right now. It is like a broken record. He just continues to execute.”
After 10 starts, Ross’s ERA sits at a tidy 3.15. He is striking out more than a batter per inning.
Hand goes 5
With one out and nobody on in the eighth, manager Andy Green brought Brad Hand on to try and retire arguably the two best left handed hitters in the Nationals lineup: Juan Soto and Bryce Harper.
The All-Star closer did just that. Juan Soto grounded out to first and Bryce Harper struck out.
In the ninth, Hand found himself in a sticky situation after allowing a leadoff double to Anthony Rendon and a single to Mark Reynolds.
Four pitches later, though, he was high-fiving his teammates. The southpaw struck out Taylor on three pitches and then retired Spencer Kieboom on a first-pitch 5-4-3 twin killing to secure the win.
It was Hand’s 15th save of the season, and his sixth of four outs or more.
Margot, Villanueva provide all the offense
The Padres offense, which has averaged less than four runs per game in the month of May, did not need to muster up much offense to get it done on Wednesday. The lone offense in the victory came off the bats of Manny Margot and Christian Villanueva.
With two outs in the 5th, Manuel Margot punched a ground ball through the right side of the infield to score Freddy Galvis, who had doubled earlier in the inning. The hit was a welcome sight for the young outfielder, who has struggled mightily at times through the season’s first 51 games.
An inning later, Christian Villanueva drove in Eric Hosmer and Franchy Cordero with an opposite-field double that clanked off Bryce Harper’s glove in right field.
It was certainly a makeable play for Harper, and the scorekeeper in Washington originally ruled the play an error. Much to the delight of Christian Villanueva (and our own Mark Sweeney, who played him in pick the stick!), Villanueva was granted the double an inning later.
Friars solve Harper
Bryce Harper entered the game with a .353 batting average and a .686 slugging percentage against the Padres for his career. He had also homered in the two prior games of the series.
This afternoon, though, Harper did not replicate his success. The superstar struck out three times in an 0-for-4 day.