The Washington Nationals entered tonight's game against veteran lefty Eric Stults with a National League low .194 AVG against left-handed pitchers. The Nats' .268 OBP was the NL's lowest as well. The .299 SLG was the 15th of 15 as was their .247 BABIP as a team. They got a leadoff walk by Denard Span to get off to a good start in the third game of four with the San Diego Padres this weekend, but a 6-3 DP and swinging K followed in what ended up being a 13-pitch inning Stults, a 33-year-old, seven-year veteran and one-time Dodger, Rockie and White Sock. Luckily for the Nationals, they had Jordan Zimmermann on the mound, who's done to hitters on both sides of the plate what lefites have done to the Nats so far this season. Opponents had a .197/.232/.272 line and a .230 BABIP (5th lowest in the NL) against the Nats' 26-year-old right-hander before tonight, and Zimmermann threw a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 first in Petco Park, collecting two Ks along the way.
Stults needed nine pitches to retire the Nationals in order in a quick, 1-2-3 top of the second. The second pitch of the Padres' second was crushed. San Diego slugger Yonder Alonso got hold of a 1-0 fastball up high inside from Jordan Zimmermann and hit what was just the third home run this season off the Nationals' starter to give the Padres a 1-0 lead in Petco Park. Alonso's fifth. Mark Kotsay singled to center in the next at bat, but a flyout to center and a 5-4-3 DP ended the bottom of the inning after just 10 pitches. 20 overall for Zimmermann after two.
Danny Espinosa K'd looking to start the third, leaving him 1 for 18 with 10 Ks so far on the Nationals' west coast road trip. Kurt Suzuki walked with one down and then went first-to-third™ on Jordan Zimmermann's sac bunt attempt when Eric Stults' throw to first went through Jedd Gyorko's wickets. #5Hole. Second and third with one down, but a line drive back to the mound bounced off Stolts' leg and right to first base where Yonder Alonso made the play, looked Suzuki back and stepped on the bag before running over to third where Jordan Zimmermann and Suzuki were both caught at the base. A brief, sort-of-rundown ensued that ended with the Nats' catcher being tagged out for an inning-ending 1-3 DP.
Everth Cabrera battled for six pitches before singling to center after Jordan Zimmermann had quickly dispatched the first two Padres in the bottom of the third. Will Venable grounded into a force at second in the next at bat, however, and the Nats' right-handed starter was through three on 37 pitches after a 17-pitch frame.
The Nationals went down in order in a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth that had Eric Stults at 50 pitches overall after four innings in which he hadn't allowed a hit. Jordan Zimmermann got the first out of the Padres' fourth with one pitch to Chase Headley, who grounded weakly to first. Five groundouts for Zimmermann in 3.1 IP. Yonder Alonso flew to center on a 1-0 change after crushing a fastball the first time up. A groundout to second by Mark Kotsay ended a four-pitch inning that had Zimmermann at 41 overall after four.
The Nationals went down in order in an 8-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth that had Eric Stults at 58 pitches overall after five innings in which he hadn't allowed a hit. Danny Espinosa entered the bat-throwing competition and got a nice toss in as he K'd swinging to end the inning and leave himself 1 for 19 with 11 Ks on the road trip. A groundout to third by Jedd Gyorko and a fly to right on a 3-1 fastball by Chris Denorfia had Jordan Zimmermann through 4.2 on 47 pitches. John Baker battled for five pitches before he went down swinging on the Nats' starter's 52nd pitch of the night. Still 1-0 Padres.
The Nationals went down in ord... actually Kurt Suzuki singled to start the Nats' sixth. Jordan Zimmermann successfully bunted Suzuki over again this time up, and Yonder Alonso made a successful throw to first this time where Stults had erred. Denard Span flew to center for out no.2, however, and Steve Lombardozzi lined ou-- Lombo lined a single to right to bring Suzuki in and tie it. 1-1 game after five and a half in San Diego. Lombardozzi got caught trying to steal second for out no.3 of the Nats' sixth. The Padres' half of the inning started with groundout no.8 and the eighth straight batter set down when Eric Stults rolled one over to LaRoche at first. Zimmermann dropped a 1-2 slider in on Everth Cabrera's back foot for a swinging K and the ninth-straight Padre retired. A pop to short by Will Venable made it an even 10. The eight-pitch inning had Zimmermann at 60 overall.
Adam LaRoche singled with one down in the seventh to extend his current hit-streak to 15 games, but two outs later he was stranded when Padres' starter Eric Stults retired Ian Desmond and Tyler Moore in quick succession. After LaRoche's streak was extended, Jordan Zimmermann's streak ended when he hit leadoff man Chase Headley with a slider to put the leadoff man on in San Diego's seventh. Yonder Alonso lined a single to right in the next at bat, connecting for his second and the fourth overall hit off the Nats' starter in 6.0+ IP. Mark Kotsay flew out to center unproductively for out no.1 of the inning. Jedd Gyorko flew to right for out no.2. Chris Denorfia had an infield single with sharp grounder to short, but after diving to make the play, Ian Desmond threw to third, behind Chase Headley and caught the runner sleeping for out no.3. Still 1-1. 73 pitches for Zimmermann after a 13-pitch frame.
Jordan Zimmermann tried to help his own cause with a two-out single in the Nationals' eighth, but he was forced out at second on a grounder up the middle by Denard Span. 1-1 in San Diego after seven and a half. John Baker lined a single to left in the first at bat of the Padres' eighth, but pinch hitter Alexi Amarista dropped a bunt right in front of the plate allowing an aggressive Kurt Suzuki to cut the lead runner down at second. Amarista was left at first, however, and he took second on a botched pick attempt before scoring on an RBI single to center by Everth Cabrera that made it 2-1 Padres in the bottom of the eighth. A stolen base by Cabrera put another runner in scoring position with one down, but a lineout to second by Will Venable and a swinging K by Chase Headley ended the eighth after 12 pitches with Zimmermann at 85 overall after eight.
Huston Street came on to close out the win... and walked the first batter he faced, Steve Lombardozzi, but Lombo got doubled up on a hit-and-run gone wrong when Ryan Zimmerman K'd swinging at a 3-2 fastball and Padres' catcher John Baker threw a strike to second. Adam LaRoche stepped in as the Nats' only hope and got ahead 3-0 and took a four-pitch, two-out walk that brought Ian Desmond up, but a pop to second baseman Jedd Gyorko in short right ended it. Ballgame. Padres win, 2-1 final.
Nationals now 23-20