SAN DIEGO (AP) — Padres left-hander Clayton Richard had just retired the first three Washington Nationals batters in order when San Diego manager Bud Black realized he had a problem.
The official lineup card that he'd handed umpire Tim Timmons at the plate meeting didn't list Richard as the starter. It listed Adam Russell. Problem was, Russell wasn't even in the stadium. Hours earlier, he'd been optioned to Triple-A Portland, so he was either at the airport or already in the air.
The gaffe led to the Nationals protesting the game, which turned out to be a moot point. Josh Willingham hit a three-run home run, Ian Desmond had a solo shot and John Lannan earned his first victory since April 10 as Washington held on to beat the Padres 5-3 on Friday night.
No one recalled seeing anything quite like this, especially a manager turning himself in.
At the very least, the umpires will be able to rib Padres bench coach Ted Simmons, the former All-Star catcher who usually fills out the lineup card before Black signs it.
"We inadvertently had Russell on the card as the starting pitcher," Black said. "From there, we spotted it. I went to the umpires and inform them that we had the wrong name.
"Ultimately, the responsibility falls to me at the end of the day to check it," Black said. "I missed it."
The umpires huddled with Black and Washington manager Jim Riggleman. They talked among themselves, then announced the game was being protested by the Nationals.
According to rule 3.05(a), the pitcher listed in the lineup handed to the umpire-in-chief has to face the first batter until he is put out or reaches first base, unless the pitcher gets hurt or becomes ill and is unable to pitch.
"There's no way to fulfill that given the fact that the pitcher named is not even in the area code," said crew chief Tim Tschida, who was the first base umpire. "We just did what we felt we could do, and that was, Richard is the substitute for Russell. Russell can't play, but he can't play anyway. There isn't much more penalty that we can enforce on them. We can't create somebody to come in and face one guy that Russell should have faced, and the Nationals protested that, which is certainly within their rights, and what they should do."
Had Russell been on the 25-man roster, he would have had to come in and face one batter, and Richard would be finished for the night.
Riggleman said he didn't think the protest would have stood had the Nationals lost.
"I'm just really glad we won the game so we didn't have to go through that," Riggleman said. "That protest would not have held up. But it's my nightmare, it's the future manager's nightmare, that you get that wrong name on there. I look at it 10 times, I have coaches look at it over and over, and every now and then one gets by. I shouldn't speak for Buddy. He's first class and he came out and brought it to the attention of the umpires.
"The umpires said, 'I don't think there's anything we can do about it.' Just for the sake of our ballclub, we protested it. It was just one of those human errors."
Still, "Your heart starts beating fast when you see the umpires pull the cards out: 'Oh man, what did I do?' " Riggleman said. "I know more intelligent people than me have messed those cards up. It's going to happen sometime. I'll just have to apologize for it."
Black "took the high road," Timmons said. "I told him, 'That's honorable that you did that.' "
Nationals closer Matt Capps got out of a huge jam in the ninth to earn his major league-leading 17th save in 18 chances.
Capps allowed three straight singles to load the bases opening the ninth, including infield hits by Oscar Salazar and Jerry Hairston Jr. Chris Denorfia singled to center to bring in Yorvit Torrealba. Pinch-hitter Matt Stairs worked the count full before taking a called third strike on a slider, Will Venable struck out on three pitches and David Eckstein grounded out to third.
With two outs in the fourth, Willingham hit the first pitch he saw from Richard over the fence in straightaway center field to give the Nationals a 3-0 lead. It was his 10th.
This was the fourth time Willingham has homered in consecutive games this season. He has four homers and 11 RBIs in his last six games while going 9 for 19 (.474).
Desmond homered to left with two outs in the seventh to make it 4-1. It was his fourth. He laid down a safety squeeze for another RBI in the ninth.
Lannan (2-2) held the Padres to two runs — one earned — on seven hits in seven innings to win for the first time since April 10 at the New York Mets.
Richard (4-3) had won four straight decisions. He'd only given up one home run this year, in nine starts.
Eckstein doubled leading off the fourth and scored on Adrian Gonzalez's single to center. The Padres got an unearned run in the seventh when Denorfia singled in Salazar, who reached on a throwing error by Desmond, the shortstop.
NOTES: Torrealba had three hits to tie his career high. ... The Nationals will promote right-hander J.D. Martin from Triple-A to start Saturday night. Martin will be making his 2010 debut. He made 15 starts last year, going 5-4 with a 4.44 ERA. He'll start in the spot of Scott Olsen, who's on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation.