The Washington Nationals bullpen struggled, giving up six runs in the bottom of the eight inning, in a 7-3 loss to the Padres.
If you took a look at tonight’s starting pitching matchup, you would think the Washington Nationals would have a huge advantage. Max Scherzer has returned to his 2014 Cy young caliber form, and Colin Rea, the Padres young right-hander, has struggled this season. Although it looked like a mismatch on paper, both pitchers gave great starts for their team tonight, but tonight’s game came down to the bullpen.
Neither starter got of to the start they would have hoped as both teams got their offense going in the first inning. After a Michael Taylor one out walk, he stole second base, and was driven in by RBI machine Daniel Murphy on a two out single, giving the Washington Nationals an early 1-0 lead.
The Padres struck right back in the bottom of the first, as Wil Myers hit a solo home run. His 16th of the season tied the game at one.
After not ideal starts for either pitcher, both settled into a grove. Scherzer retired 13 of the next 14 batters, and Rea kept the Nats hitters off balance. Both pitchers kept the game tied at 1-1 headed into the top of the seventh inning.
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In the top of the seventh, the Nats put pressure on Rea for the first time. Wilson Ramos struck a one out single to center, and was followed by a walk to Stephen Drew. This chased Rea from the game, as Padres manager Andy Green went to right-hander Brandon Maurer. Maurer retired the first batter he faced Danny Espinosa, but then Dusty Baker went to Anthony Rendon off the bench (pinch-hitting for Scherzer).
With two strikes, Rendon laced a ball to first that hit off Myers’ glove. Myers tried to flip to Maurer at first, but the ball got away, allowing Ramos to score,.This also would give Max Scherzer a chance to qualify for the win, which he deserved after a very gutsy outing. He allowed just the one run in six innings of work, and struck out ten batters, giving him double digit strikeouts for the fifth time this season
After a scoreless inning by Matt Belisle in the in the bottom of the seventh, the Nats extended their lead in the top of the eighth. Taylor led off the inning with a single. Then, with two outs, Ryan Zimmerman hit a clutch two out RBI single to right, giving the Washington Nationals a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, the Nats went to Felipe Rivero, and he got himself into a jam. Alexei Ramirez and Alexi Amarista both singled and then Jon Jay walked to load the bases. Myers came to the plate and delivered again with a two-run double to center that tied the game at three
After an intentional walk to Matt Kemp to load the bases again, Brett Wallace hit an easy come backer to Rivero, who bobbled it and threw it away trying to get the force at the plate. This scored Jay and put San Diego up 4-3. This was the end of a disastrous outing for Rivero as Baker pulled him for Blake Treinen.
Melvin Upton Jr. was the first batter to face Treinen and he walked him on five pitches, increasing the lead to 5-3. The next batter Yangervis Solarte, blooped a two-run single into shallow left and extended the lead to 7-3. Derek Norris, the ninth Padres batter of the inning, grounded into a 5-4-3 double play, which gave the Washington Nationals the first two outs of the inning. Ramirez popped out to Zimmerman for the third out, mercifully ending a complete disaster of an inning.
Next Game: The Washington Nationals (43-26) will go for the series win against the San Diego Padres (28-42) later today at PETCO Park. You can catch the game at 4:40 p.m. ET on MASN2. Gio Gonzalez (3-5 3.96) will get the ball for the Nats, and will be opposed by Drew Pomeranz (5-7 2.88) for the Padres.