San Diego, CA – Gio Gonzalez went six scoreless innings, Chad Tracy hit a two-run, pinch-hit single and the Nationals defeated the Padres, 3-1, on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series.
Gonzalez (2-0) allowed just two hits, walked two and struck out six in the win and Henry Rodriguez earned his fifth save of the season with a perfect ninth.
Rick Ankiel added an RBI single for Washington, which was coming off an 8-2 homestand.
Clayton Richard (1-2) gave up two runs on three hits and five walks while striking out six over 6 1/3 innings for the Padres, who had won their previous two games.
Washington stranded a pair of in both the fifth and sixth inning before finally getting to Richard in the seventh. Xavier Nady led off with a double and Wilson Ramos followed with a walk. Both runners advanced on Steve Lombardozzi's sac bunt and they scored when Tracy singled up the middle.
"I wasn't trying to hit it to a certain part of the field I was just trying to get the good part of the bat on it," said Tracy.
Gonzalez, who allowed just one runner to advance past first base, was replaced by Craig Stammen to start the bottom of the seventh. The Padres took advantage with a leadoff walk from Cameron Maybin and a single from Orlando Hudson. Tyler Clippard entered and struck out Yonder Alonso before pinch-hitter Andy Parrino lifted a sinking liner to center. The ball short-hopped, then rolled past Jayson Werth, allowing Maybin to score and Hudson to reach third.
Clippard maintained the 2-1 lead, however, popping out pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay to short and grounding out Chris Denorfia to end the inning.
Sean Burnett replaced Clippard in the eighth and allowed Chase Headley to reach second with two down before striking out Maybin to end the inning.
Ramos lifted a soft liner to right in the ninth and reached third when the ball grazed past Will Venable, who appeared to lose it in the lights, and rolled to the wall. Ankiel drove Ramos home to cap the scoring.
"You never know how a game is going to play out but Tracy got the (hit), put them ahead, and their bullpen did a nice job," said Padres manager Bud Black.
The Nationals began a six-game road trip Tuesday and will also visit the Dodgers on the trek...Washington manager Davey Johnson skippered his 100th game with the Nationals. He has compiled a 53-47 record since taking the helm on June 27, 2011.