The Padres look to continue their dominance of the Nationals on Tuesday night when they play middle game of this series between last-place clubs.
San Diego (57-76) took two of three on the road in each of its last two series, denting the postseason chances of Atlanta and Florida.
The Padres continued their solid play Monday, beating Washington 3-1 behind some strong defensive play. Oscar Salazar(notes) made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch in left field before slamming into the pitcher’s scoreboard and bruising his left knee, forcing him out of the game.
Normally an infielder, Salazar was making his first career start in the outfield and also scraped his left elbow and hit his face to preserve a 2-1 lead with a runner on first in the seventh. He’s expected to play Tuesday.
“The overall team defense has really picked up,” manager Bud Black said. “It’s really saving pitches for us.”
San Diego has won 27 of 35 meetings with the Nationals (46-86), and 13 of 17 at Petco Park dating back to 2004 when the franchise was the Montreal Expos.
The Padres will give Clayton Richard(notes) (3-1, 5.22 ERA) his first start against Washington in an attempt to rebound from his shortest outing since being acquired from the Chicago White Sox just prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Richard was tagged for six runs and nine hits before being pulled with one out in the third en route to a 9-1 loss at Atlanta on Thursday. That was in stark contrast to his previous trip to the mound six days earlier when he scattered five hits with six strikeouts in six innings of a 4-0 win over NL Central-leading St. Louis.
“It was a rough one,” Richard said. “I feel like if I was taking care of business like I should have, we’d have a positive outcome. There’s definitely things I can learn from and I’ll take those away.”
The Nationals, owners of the worst record in baseball, have lost four in a row and 11 of 14 following an 11-3 surge.
They’re scheduled to turn to rookie J.D. Martin(notes) (3-3, 4.85), who will try to draw some inspiration from Livan Hernandez’s(notes) complete game on Monday, as the veteran allowed three runs in eight innings.
The right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.18 ERA in his last four games, and is coming off Thursday’s 5-4 win at Chicago. He allowed three runs and four hits, including two homers, in five innings of that victory.
Martin yielded two hits during his only start against the Padres on July 25, as a lengthy rain delay forced him to complete only two innings of the 13-1 victory.
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