Dan Haren (L, 4-5) lasted but five innings and gave up seven runs as the Washington Nationals (23-21) fell 13-4 to the San Diego Padres (20-23) Sunday afternoon at Petco Park.
The Nats went down in order in the first against right-hander Andrew Cashner (W, 3-2), but the Padres by no means returned the favor.
Everth Cabrera led off the bottom of the inning with a single and stole second base before Chase Headley walked to give the Padres first and second with one out. Carlos Quentin doubled in Cabrera and Yonder Alonso brought home Headley on a sacrifice fly to quickly make it 2-0 San Diego. Before Haren could regain control, however, Jedd Gyorko – who’s hit hard off the Nats this series – doubled on a sharp grounder to left to make it 3-0.
The Padres’ bats quieted, allowing the Nats to gain some steam in the fourth inning.
Steve Lombardozzi led off with a single and, on a 3-1 count, Ryan Zimmerman rocketed one over the left field wall to bring the Nats back in it, down 3-2.
It was a short-lived comeback, however, and in the fifth, Will Venable wasted no time homering to right to give the Padres an additional run.
With two outs, Yonder Alonso doubled to Tyler Moore in left and came home on a Jedd Gyorko single in a similar spot. Kyle Blanks followed up with a two-run homer and Haren closed out his stint with the Nats down 7-2.
Oddly enough, Henry Rodriguez took the mound in the sixth, which featured three stolen bases and a wild pitch – yet the Padres went scoreless for three outs.
In the top of the seventh, Washington restored at least a tiny bit of hope for a rally.
With two outs, Denard Span singled and Lombardozzi doubled to give the Nats runners at the corners. Zimmerman singled to bat in Span and Adam LaRoche did the same to bring home Lombo and make it 7-4 Padres.
By the time Cashner’s day was done, he had earned a final line of 6.2 innings pitched, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 K and 1 HR.
But, for every two steps forward Sunday afternoon, the Nats pitching rotation took five steps back.
Ryan Mattheus took the mound in the bottom of the seventh and gave up a single and back-to-back walks to quickly load the bases for the Padres with no outs.
Nick Hundley hit a sacrifice fly to left to bring home Alonso, and Alexi Amarista singled to plate Gyorko, expanding San Diego’s lead to a reassuring 9-4.
Cabrera’s follow-up single batted in both Blanks and Amarista and Venable added a double to make it 12-4 Padres before Mattheus’s day was done.
To add insult to injury, Alonso homered off Drew Storen to lead off the eighth to finally bring the Padres to their would-be final score of 13-4.
THE GOOD: There’s not much to write home about regarding the Nationals’ performance Sunday afternoon. The offense performed a little better, despite the fact Bryce Harper remained out of the lineup.
Steve Lombardozzi went 3-for-5 with two runs against San Diego pitching. He is now 6-for-20 in his last five games played.
THE BAD: Even when the Nats showed signs of life amidst Dan Haren’s rocky start, Washington’s pitching rotation never allowed for a comeback to materialize. Haren was all over the place from start to finish, with a decent few outs squeezed in between. Henry Rodriguez provided an inning of hitless baseball – thankfully – but Ryan Mattheus followed up with a simply terrible outing by all accounts. Drew Storen limited the Padres to one additional run but, of course, that hadn’t made any difference when all was said and done.
THE UGLY: The Nationals have now recorded one error or more in their last four consecutive games for a total of seven errors. The errors in Sunday’s matchup – a fielding error by Adam LaRoche and a missed catch error by Kurt Suzuki – mattered little in the scheme of things, but the Nationals can’t expect to get away with such sloppy mistakes all season.
The Nats are now 11-12 on the road. They will go on to face the San Francisco Giants, who have dropped five of their last six games; however, they will need Zach Duke to deliver in his first start this season in order to right their standings on the road.
THE STATS: 4 R, 10 H, 2 BB, 7 K, 7 LOB, 2-for-6 with RISP, 2 Errors (LaRoche, Suzuki)
NEXT GAME: Monday, 10:15 p.m. ET – LHP Zach Duke (0-0) vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong (1-4, 8.06 ERA)