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Washington Nationals snap four-game slide with 7-5 win over San Diego Padres in Petco

Josh Bell broke up a 5-5 tie with a home run from the right side in the top of the seventh and the Nationals won, 7-5, in the series opener with the Padres.

Washington Nationals v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Washington’s Nationals jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the series opener in San Diego, but Jon Lester struggled on the mound, and the Padres tied things up with three runs in the home-half of the third and two in the fourth, 5-5. Josh Bell hit a solo shot from the right side in the top of the seventh, however, 6-5, and the Nats added a run on an RBI ground-rule double by Alcides Escobar in the eighth in a 7-5 win.

Lester vs the Padres: Jon Lester got off to a good start in June, with a 2.61 ERA, seven walks, 13 Ks, and a .262/.319/.452 line against in four starts and 20 23 IP over that stretch, but in his last two outings before tonight, the 37-year-old left-hander struggled, giving up 12 hits, five walks, and 12 ER in 7 13 IP.

Lester went just 2 13 innings against the Marlins, allowing five hits, three walks, and seven earned runs in an 11-2 loss in Miami, and followed that up with a five-inning outing against Tampa Bay, giving up seven hits, two walks, and five earned runs in five innings on the hill against the Rays.

He struggled through a 29-pitch first tonight in Petco Park, giving up a two-out single, and back-to-back walks which loaded the bases, before a Trent Grisham groundout ended that threat, and after Trea Turner gave him a 1-0 lead to work with in the top of the first, a four-run second made it 5-0 Nationals.

A 12-pitch second, in which he gave up a one-out single then caught a popped up bunt and started an inning-ending 1-4 DP, left Lester at 41 pitches, but an ROE, walk, and single in the top of the third loaded the bases and a hit-by-pitch on Trent Grisham got the Padres on the board, down 5-1, and Ha-Seong Kim’s two-run double made it a 5-3 game. Lester’s 27-pitch third left him at 68 total after three.

Fernando Tatis, Jr. hit a 2-2 cutter out to left, 399 ft from home for a solo homer off Lester in the home-half of the fourth inning, and a double to left by Jake Cronenworth, on the 83rd pitch from the Nationals’ starter, ended Lester’s outing.

Jon Lester’s Line: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 83 P, 48 S, 5/2 GO/FO.

Musgrove vs the Nationals: Padres’ starter Joe Musgrove was winless over a six-game stretch, five of them starts, between May 25th and June 23rd, but last time out before tonight, the 28-year-old righty earned a win in a four-inning outing in which he gave up four hits, three walks, and five earned runs in five innings.

San Diego skipper Jayce Tingler was impressed with his starter’s effort, after he gave up three of the hits he allowed, two of the walks, and three runs in the first inning.

“He’s been an absolute warrior for us,” Tingler said, as quoted on ESPN. “Tonight, to give up the runs early, he kept his hands up and kept fighting. He didn’t have his best stuff.”

The first-pitch fastball he threw to Trea Turner with one out in the first tonight was not his best either, a 94 MPH heater up, over the middle of the plate, that Turner crushed, hitting one into the second deck in left field, 410 feet from home to put the Nationals up 1-0 early in the series opener in Petco Park.

Yan Gomes walked to start the Nationals’ second, went first-to-third with one out on a Victor Robles’ double, and scored on a single to center by Nationals’ starter Jon Lester, 2-0, before Alcides Escobar bunted with runners on the corners, allowing Robles to come in, in front of the toss home by charging Padres’ first baseman Jake Cronenworth, 3-0. Turner singled on a humpback liner to short-center, loading the bases in front of Juan Soto, whose sac fly got the lead up to 4-0, and 5-0 on an RBI single by Josh Bell.

Musgrove hung in there, and the Padres rallied to tie it with three in the third and two in the fourth, and a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left him at 100 pitches total, and he retired 10 of the final 11 hitters he faced.

Joe Musgrove’s Line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 100 P, 65 S, 9/1 GO/FO.

Turner Comes Back Swinging: Trea Turner missed all four games with the Dodgers after he jammed a finger sliding headfirst into third base on his cycle-completing triple in Nationals Park last Wednesday, but he was back in there tonight, and he had a four-game hit streak as he stepped to the plate, with three home runs in those four games, and he hit his fourth in five games on the first pitch he saw, taking a high fastball from Joe Musgrove out to left in Petco Park for his 15th of the 2021 campaign overall.

Bullpen Action: Kyle McGowin took over for the Nationals with a runner on second and one out in the bottom of the fourth, with the visitors up, 5-4, and got one out before a Wil Myers’ double to left brought in the tying run, 5-5 after four.

McGowin worked around a walk in a scoreless, 14-pitch fifth.

Craig Stammen worked around an error and a two-run single in a scoreless top of the sixth.

Wander Suero struck out two in a 17-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth. Still 5-5.

Josh Bell was 3 for 4 on the night after he hit a first-pitch slider from Padres’ lefty Tim Hill out to left field with one out in the top of the seventh, 6-5 Nationals. Bell’s 12th of 2021, a 412-foot blast.

Sam Clay needed just six pitches in a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, after the Nationals retook the lead.

Pierce Johnson gave up a one-out double by Victor Robles and Alcides Escobar drove him in with a two-out, ground-rule double to left field, 7-5. Escobar with a 3 for 4 night.

Austin Voth retired the side in order in the eighth, striking out Fernando Tatis, Jr. to end a six-pitch frame.

Nabil Crismatt worked around a Starlin Castro single for a scoreless top of the ninth.

Brad Hand came on to end it in the bottom of the ninth and retired the side in order to end it. 14-straight outs from the bullpen. Ballgame.

Final Score: 7-5 Nationals

Nationals now 41-42