The Washington Nationals got off to a good start on their current 10-game, 11-day road trip, winning the first two against a moribund San Diego Padres squad. But Felipe Rivero imploded on Saturday night and Gio Gonzalez did the same on Sunday, giving up six runs in five-plus innings and the Nats lost their second in a row to one of the worst teams in the big leagues, 6-3, before a sparse Father's Day crowd at Petco Park.
Gonzalez entered play on Sunday mired in a four-game losing streak and five-game winless streak, with a 7.45 ERA and .297/.354/.500 slash line against over the stretch dating back to May 18 when he beat the Mets 7-1. It didn't get any better against the Padres.
On the day, Gonzalez allowed six runs -- five earned -- on eight hits and four walks, striking out just three in 5 1/3 innings. He also hit two batters and had a very costly throwing error.
Michael Taylor got things off to a good start for the Nats (43-26), jumping on Drew Pomeranz' first pitch, a laser beam shot over the fence in left field for his third leadoff homer of the season, fifth of his career and fifth overall this season. After Jayson Werth flied out, Bryce Harper pushed a bunt into the open spot at third base against the shift, then Daniel Murphy singled. But Alexei Ramirez made a great backhand stop on Ryan Zimmerman's ground ball and started a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The Padres got the run right back. With one out, Wil Myers (him again) blooped a single just over the head of Murphy at second. He moved up on a "swinging sac bunt" on a 2-0 pitch by Matt Kemp and scored on a ground ball single to left by Yangervis Solarte.
With one out in the third, Taylor hustled his way into a double and promptly stole third, but Werth struck out on a high fastball and Harper flied out to left to strand Taylor at third.
Taylor now has a hit in 17 consecutive starts dating back to May 3.
Gonzalez got back into trouble in the fourth. Melvin Upton singled to lead off and Derek Norris followed with an infield single to short. Ramirez popped up, but No. 8 hitter Adam Rosales laced a double over Taylor's head in left center for a two-run double. Gonzalez hit Jon Jay and walked Myers to load 'em up, but he got Kemp to ground to third without further damage to the scoreboard.
Danny Espinosa got the Nats back to within one in the fifth, knocking his 12th home run of the season to straight center. Then with two outs, Taylor crushed a 3-2 off-speed pitch off the facing of the second level in left for his second homer of the day to tie the game at 3-3.
But Gonzalez gave 'em right back. He walked Solarte on four pitches to start the bottom of the inning, then threw wildly down the right field line on a tapper by Upton to put runners at second and third. Derek Norris lined to left to plate Solarte, then Ramirez laced a single to center to bring Upton in from second to make it 5-3. Fortunately, Gonzalez struck out Adam Rosales and Jose Lobaton threw out Ramirez trying to steal to end the inning.
Gonzalez came back out for the sixth, already having thrown 104 pitches. He allowed a single to pinch-hitter Ryan Schimpf and after Travis Jankowski bounced out to second, manager Dusty Baker came with the hook. Reliever Matt Belisle struck out Myers, but Kemp lined a single to center to plate Schimpf to make it 6-3.
In the eighth, after pinch-hitter Chris Heisey flied out, Taylor lined a single -- his fourth hit of the day -- but Werth flied out to the track in left and Harper struck out on three pitches by Ryan Buchter.
Rivero had somewhat of a "bounceback" appearance in the eighth, striking out one and giving up a hit -- but picking the runner off in a scoreless frame.
The Nats went quietly in order against Padres closer Fernando Rodney in the ninth.
WP: Pomeranz (6-7) LP: Gonzalez (3-6) SV: Rodney (14) HR: Taylor 2 (5), Espinosa (12) E: Gonzalez (1)
NEXT GAME: Monday at 10:10 p.m. at the L.A. Dodgers. Stephen Strasburg (10-0, 2.90) against Clayton Kershaw (10-1, 1.58).
- Today's Washington Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" Segment: With wins in two of the first games in San Diego, Washington is now 33-39 vs the Padres since 2005, but the Nationals are 19-10 against the Padres since 2012.
- After last night's loss, the Nationals have won 7 of their last 9, 10 of their last 13 and 14 of 19 since May 29th, and they have averaged 6.1 runs per game over that stretch, outscoring opponents 115-78.
- The Nationals' 43-26 record through 69 games is the best in club history (2005-present) and franchise history.
- Padres' first baseman Wil Myers was 3 for 5 with a home run and two doubles last night, leaving him 25 for 67 (.373 AVG) since June 1st.
- In 17 games in June, Myers now has eight doubles, nine home runs and 18 runs scores. His .373 AVG this month is the second-best in the N.L. in June.
- The Nationals' 93 home runs as a team lead the National League, and they're fourth in runs scored with 322 on the year.
- Daniel Murphy had another multi-hit game Friday night, giving him 29 multi-hit games on the season, the most by any N.L. player.
- Heading into play today, Murphy leads the majors with a .360 AVG on the year, and he's hitting .329 against left-handed pitchers.
- Left-handed Padres' starter Drew Pomeranz has allowed a .189 BAA so far this season, third-best among N.L. pitchers, behind only Jake Arrieta (.173) and Clayton Kershaw (.170).
- In six starts in Petco Park this season, before today, Pomeranz was (3-3) with a 2.60 ERA and a .194 BAA.
- Padres' closer Fernando Rodney worked a scoreless ninth last night, extending his streak of innings pitched without an earned run allowed to 24 ⅓-straight innings pitched.
- Rodney's lone unearned run allowed came back on April 15, he's throw 21-straight scoreless innings since then.