A good eight innings for the Nationals against the San Diego Padres became a tie game in the ninth, but the Nats pulled through, winning 6-5 in 10.
Two players who have been scuffling lately, Chad Tracy and Drew Storen, got to play hero in the extra frame, making sure the Nationals held on to a game they had all but sewn up just an inning before.
Tracy hit the game winning home run in the top of the tenth, his first home run of the year and the first RBI from a pinch hitter this season. While Storen came in to the tenth to notch the save.
Gio Gonzalez started the game for the Nationals and struggled mightily in his first two innings, giving up 2 runs on 46 pitches in the first two innings. Gonzalez was not helped out by his defense either. The first run scored on Kyle Blanks’ single to right, but a throwing error by Bryce Harper allowed the second run to score.
Gonzalez settled down after that retiring 12 of the next 13 batters he faced. The only batter who reached was Everth Cabrera on a bunt and Gonzalez throwing error.
Adam LaRoche continued his scalding May, blasting two home runs in the normally pitcher friendly Petco Park. With the homers LaRoche extended his hitting streak to 14 games and has started raising his slash line to normal numbers.
The first home run came in the fourth inning. Bryce Harper led off the inning with a single to right field and Ryan Zimmerman followed that with a single to left. LaRoche apparently had enough of the singles and brought everyone home to make it a 3-2 game in favor of the Nats.
The second home run came in the sixth inning and was the latter part of a back-to-back home run sequence. Zimmerman hit the first home run, a solo shot that was just his second home run on the season. LaRoche followed that with his second home run in consecutive plate appearances, going back-to-back with both himself and Zimmerman.
Gonzalez gave one run back in the bottom of the sixth when Jedd Gyorko hit a solo shot, to make it 5-3 Nationals. But he settled back down immediately to finish the sixth inning with 98 pitches.
Despite the pitch count Gonzalez came back out for the seventh inning and managed to get the first two outs, sandwiching a Chris Denorfia single, but then hit Chase Headly with a two-strike breaking ball. At 115 pitches his day was done, a disappointing end to a strong outing that looked to be trouble at the start.
Gonzalez gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits, striking out five and walking three in his 6.2 innings of work.
Tyler Clippard finished the seventh and eighth innings for the Nats to bridge the gap to closer Rafael Soriano. It was Soriano’s first save opportunity in eight days.
Soriano got Alexi Amarista to fly out to start the inning, but then got into trouble when Ryan Zimmerman made another throwing error to let Denorfia get on-base. Soriano was able to get Everth Cabrera to fly out for the second out, but then gave up three straight singles to right field to blow the save.
Chad Tracy then performed his theatrics in the top of the tenth inning, sending a 1-1 pitch with two outs over the right field fence to give the Nationals the lead again. Drew Storen came in for the tenth and got into a little trouble at the start getting into runners in the corner with only one out. He then proceeded to strike out Denorfia on his little seen change-up. Zimmerman made things tense when he bobbled an easy grounder, but he recovered nicely to get the final out the inning, securing the win.
The Nationals will look to take the series tomorrow with their best starter so far, Jordan Zimmerman, taking the mound. The Padres will send out Eric Stults, a lefty with a 4.57 ERA and 1.41 WHIP, presenting another great opportunity for the Nationals offense.