SAN DIEGO (AP) — Juan Soto and Josh Bell homered against their former team, leading the San Diego Padres to a much-needed 2-1 win over the Washington Nationals on Saturday night.
Soto’s solo shot off reliever Steve Cishek (1-4) to center field in the seventh inning proved to be the winner. Bell ended a 1-for-33 slump over eight-plus games with his first home run as a member of the Padres, a 415-foot blast to right-center to tie the game at 1 in the fifth.
The Padres had lost four of five, including the first two in the series, mostly because of their struggling offense. Even though San Diego scored just two runs, it was enough to back the strong pitching by starter Joe Musgrove, who allowed one run and four hits in six innings with seven strikeouts. San Diego’s bullpen also stepped up, keeping the Nationals scoreless over three innings.
Adrian Morejon (3-0) earned the win by pitching scoreless seventh and eighth. Luis Garcia earned his third save of the season, pitching a scoreless ninth despite giving up a hit and hitting a batter. Earlier Saturday, San Diego gave Josh Hader a break from closing duties due to his recent struggles.
The Nationals jumped out to a 1-0 lead after a solo homer by Lane Thomas (2 for 4) off Musgrove, who didn’t figure in the decision.
Musgrove started the season 8-0 and has gone 0-6 in his last 10 starts beginning on June 23rd.
San Diego wasted a prime scoring chance in the bottom of the first with bases loaded on three walks against Washington starter Josiah Gray. However, Bell struck out swinging to end the inning and extinguish the Padres’ threat.
Gray worked five innings, allowing one run and four hits.
The Padres loaded the bases again in third inning with two outs, but Gray got out of it by getting Ha-Seong Kim to hit a hard line drive to left for the third out.
HADER DEMOTED AS PADRES CLOSER
Hader will not be the closer for the Padres after ninth-inning meltdowns on Thursday and Friday night led to losses.
“We will probably give him a break from that (closer) in the interim here, let him work on some things,” Melvin said before the game. “But, our best team, obviously, is with Josh Hader in the closer’s role and that’s why we got him. So, we will give him a little break for now.”
Melvin said the Padres closer role would be based on matchups game-by-game, basically closer by committee. The closer role in the short-term will likely be shared by Padres’ righties Luis Garcia and Robert Suarez and lefties Adrian Morejon and Nick Martinez.
PADRES CALL UP AZOCAR AND DESIGNATE MAZARA
On Saturday, the Padres recalled OF Jose Azocar from Triple-A El Paso and designated OF Nomar Mazara for assignment. Mazara filled in adequately as the team’s everyday right fielder during parts of the first half, but with the return of OF Wil Myers from injury, followed by the acquisition of OF Juan Soto, Mazara no longer had a path to starting games. Azocar was deemed more versatile off the bench than Mazara.
Padres: LHP Drew Pomeranz (flexor tendon surgery) is expected to return from the 60-day IL in early September. Pomeranz made his fifth rehab appearance on Aug. 19, pitching a scoreless inning for Triple-A El Paso.
LHP Patrick Corbin (4-16, 6.96) starts for the Nationals on Sunday against the Padres LHP Sean Manaea (6-6, 4.83).
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