Padres face Scherzer in opener first Nationals

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals are in the midst of a homestand that has them facing two teams that they host infrequently.

The Nationals ended a three-game series Thursday against the Mariners, who had not played in Washington since 2011. Seattle salvaged the final 4-2 after dropping the first two games.

On Friday, first-place Washington will begin a series with the San Diego Padres, who make their only trip of the season to the nation's capital. The Nationals, hitting a league-best .275 with a .474 team slugging average, are 28-18, while the Padres are 18-31 after a 4-3 win over the Mets on Thursday night in New York.

Right-hander Max Scherzer (4-3, 3.02 ERA) is slated to start Friday against San Diego ground-ball specialist Luis Perdomo (0-1, 5.79), who is coming off the worst start of his career.

Perdomo gave up eight runs on 11 hits in three innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday.

"I wasn't commanding my sinker well," Perdomo said after the game, through an interpreter.

"He wasn't sharp," San Diego manager Andy Green said of the right-hander following the Padres' 9-1 loss that day.

Scherzer is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three starts against San Diego since he joined the Nationals, and he has not allowed more than two earned runs in any game against the Padres in that stretch. Overall, he is 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA in eight career starts against the Padres.

San Diego slugger Wil Myers, however, is 4-for-9 against Scherzer with two homers.

There is a good chance the catcher for Scherzer will be Matt Wieters. Backup Jose Lobaton got the start during a day game Thursday after Wieters caught Wednesday night against Seattle.

So how does a pitching staff prepare for opponents they seldom see?

"I actually watch more (tape) of the National League guys I haven't seen in a while," said Wieters, in his first year with Washington after beginning his career in the American League with the Baltimore Orioles. "The big thing is you have to execute. It is all about execution. I will try and look at (tape) a little bit more (of the Padres)."

In the Nationals' Thursday loss, the bullpen blew another lead. Right-hander Jacob Turner gave up a homer to Nelson Cruz, the first batter he faced in the sixth after starter Gio Gonzalez left with the lead at 2-0.

"We will get ready for the Padres," Washington manager Dusty Baker said after the game.

Except that Baker was on his way to California to attend the Saturday high school graduation of his son, Darren, who has committed to play college baseball at California.

Baker will miss the weekend series against San Diego and will join the team in San Francisco, where the Nationals begin a road trip Monday. Bench coach Chris Speier will fill in for Baker.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon has been on fire for the Nationals, and he hits out of the No. 6 hole, which can be intimidating for opposing pitchers.

Rendon homered in three straight games for the first time in his career in the Seattle series and had four homers against the Mariners.

"He is getting really good pitches to hit," teammate Daniel Murphy said of Rendon. "He is seeing the ball really well right now."

Last-place Seattle had lost five in a row before beating the Nationals on Thursday. It was the first win in nine games for the Mariners in Washington.

The Padres have an even worse record than Seattle, and second-year manager Andy Green hopes Perdomo, who made 20 starts as a rookie last year, can bounce back against a Washington lineup that features Ryan Zimmerman (.362), Bryce Harper (.340) and Murphy (.316).

Perdomo defeated Washington last year in his only start against the Nationals. He gave up four hits and two runs in seven innings.

The San Diego staff also includes reliever Craig Stammen, who came up through the Washington system after he was drafted out of the University of Dayton in 2005.