WASHINGTON – These days, five runs qualifies as an offensive outburst for the San Diego Padres. On Sunday, their fifth run came on a single that barely left the infield. It was just enough for a win.
The Padres' 5-4 win over the Washington Nationals was just their fourth in 12 games — and the only time in that stretch they scored more than three runs.
With Jorge Cantu on second and two outs in the ninth, Ryan Ludwick hit a slow roller up the middle that Ian Desmond fielded in short center. It dribbled off his glove, and Cantu lumbered around third and narrowly beat Desmond's throw home.
After scoring just 15 runs in the previous 11 games, those five runs looked big — sort of.
"I think everyone looks at our offense and kind of says, 'It's not the best offense in the world,'" Ludwick said.
That might be an understatement. The Padres have the worst offense in baseball with a .227 average. The Nationals are hitting just two points better, and to form, the first two games of the series ended 2-1, with each team winning one. On Sunday, the teams, which combined for 19 hits in the first two games, had 21.
In the Padres recent slump they were just 6 for 55 with runners in scoring position. This time, they were 4 for 10.
"We've had a tough stretch here over the last 10 games or so," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We have to play a better complete game all around."
Ludwick had three hits and two RBIs and Brad Hawpe had two hits and two RBIs.
With the game tied at 4 in the ninth, Cantu broke an 0-for-13 slump with a double to right off Drew Storen (4-2). Then came the small, big hit that Desmond made a fine play to even touch.
"I knew it was in. I didn't think he was going to get to it," Ludwick said. "I thought he did a great job getting a glove on it."
Not everyone thought so.
"I don't really know why it was great," Desmond said.
"The guy scored — and we lost the game," Desmond said. "It wasn't very great to me. This isn't going to cut it."
Luke Gregerson (2-1), the third Padres pitcher, pitched two scoreless innings for the win. Heath Bell worked the ninth for his 12th save in 13 chances.
Washington, losers of nine of 11, were led by Jayson Werth with three hits.
Ever since the Nationals scored a franchise-record 17 runs against Baltimore on May 20, they've lost seven of eight and scored more than four runs just once.
"It's not luck. We're not unlucky," Desmond said. "We've got runners in scoring position, and we can't score."
In the first, Washington leadoff batter Roger Bernadina reached on an error by Hawpe at first. He stole second and advanced to third on Desmond's bunt single. Werth singled to right to score Bernadina and Desmond scored on Laynce Nix's sacrifice fly.
Yunesky Maya, recalled earlier Sunday by the Nationals, allowed just one hit in his first three innings.
In the fourth,the Padres scored when Jason Bartlett led off with a double and scored on Ludwick's single.
In the fifth, they scored three runs. Logan Forsythe led off with a single, pitcher Moseley bunted him to second, and with two outs, Bartlett and Ludwick walked to load the bases. Hawpe singled to score Forsythe and Bartlett. After Slaten replaced Maya, Ludwick scored on Headley's double.
Maya who is winless in six career starts, pitched 4 2-3 innings, allowing four runs and six hits. He walked to and struck out three.
The Nationals made it 4-3 in the fifth on Rick Ankiel's single off Moseley and Bernadina's RBI double.
Moseley pitched five innings, allowing three runs — two earned. He walked one and struck out one.
In the sixth, Washington tied the score at 4 on Michael Morse's fielders choice that scored Werth.
NOTES: Washington 3B Jerry Hairston was suspended one game and fined for "aggressive actions" toward umpire Ed Hickox on Friday night. Hairston, who was celebrating his 35th birthday on Sunday, is appealing the suspension. ... San Diego OF Cameron Maybin, hitless in his last 10 at-bats, was out of the lineup due to knee soreness. ... Maya was the sixth starting pitcher used by the Nationals this season. The Nationals are the last major league team to need a sixth starter.