The Washington Nationals’ top two hitters in the lineup have played together for less than a month, but they’ve already produced a chemistry that has resulted in a resurgence.
Soriano and Lopez helped the last-place Nationals end a five-game losing streak against San Diego with a 6-2 victory on Friday. Soriano had an RBI double and Lopez went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI.
“I hope we stay together for a long time,” said Lopez, who was acquired on July 13 from Cincinnati as part of an eight-player trade in which the Nationals also got slugger Austin Kearns. “I have a lot to learn and (Soriano) is a great player. We can only get better.”
In the past 13 games, Soriano has hit .373 (19-for-51) with four homers and 11 RBIs, and Lopez has batted .429 (21-for-49) with a homer and seven RBIs. Washington is 9-4 in that span.
“(Lopez) know how to play the game,” said Soriano, a free agent after the season. “When he sees me run, he takes some pitches. He then can get a base hit to get an RBI. We have a very good communication and very good timing.”
After missing most of the season with a strained forearm, Washington’s Pedro Astacio (2-1, 5.23 ERA) will try to reach double digits in career wins against San Diego.
The right-hander has gone at least six innings in each of his last three starts, but struggled in his last outing. Against San Francisco on Monday, Astacio got the win despite allowing four runs and a season-high 10 hits in a 10-7 victory.
That came after he gave up two earned runs over 6 1-3 innings against the Giants on July 26.
“He was pretty good. He wasn’t as sharp as he was the last time out,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said.
Astacio also wasn’t sharp in a 5-2 loss to the Padres on July 8. He gave up five runs and nine hits over 3 2-3 innings en route to his first loss of 2006.
San Diego (56-53) has lost six of eight, but still has a one-game lead over second-place Arizona. The Padres hope rookie right-hander Mike Thompson (3-3, 4.34) can help extend that lead.
Since beating Texas on June 20, Thompson is 0-1 with a 3.91 ERA in four starts. That loss came Sunday after he was recalled from Triple-A Portland when he gave up three runs, six hits and three walks in six innings of a 3-1 defeat to Colorado.
“Mike gave us all we asked of him. Unfortunately, we were shut down offensively,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said.
Thompson, who has never faced Washington, has no record and a 3.72 ERA in three home starts.
Padres shortstop Khalil Greene, who sprained the middle finger on his left hand swinging on Thursday against Houston, did not play Friday and may miss the series. Geoff Blum started in place of Greene and went 1-for-3.
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