Padres-Nationals Preview

A lineup change and the return of Wilson Ramos may have gotten

their offense on the right track, but the Washington Nationals

haven’t had much trouble scoring lately with Gio Gonzalez on the

mound.

The Nationals look to build off their latest effort at the plate

for the left-hander Friday night when they host the San Diego

Padres, losers of a season-high six straight.

After Washington (43-42) was limited to one run and 13 hits in

losses Tuesday and Wednesday, manager Davey Johnson mixed things up

Thursday. He moved shortstop Ian Desmond up to second in the

batting order and dropped outfielder Jayson Werth down to

sixth.

The immediate results were positive as Desmond and Werth went a

combined 6 for 7 in an 8-5 victory over Milwaukee to split the

four-game home series.

“Yeah, that came out all right,” Johnson said. “You know, once

in a while I have a great idea.”

After missing 44 games because of a strained left hamstring,

Ramos went 3 for 4 with a career-high five RBIs and hit a go-ahead,

three-run homer in the seventh inning.

“He’s a statement player,” Desmond said of Ramos. “And

definitely somebody who’s waiting for his turn in the

spotlight.”

Star Bryce Harper hasn’t done as well in his four games back

after being sidelined with a knee injury. He’s 1 for 15 with a

homer and six strikeouts, though he has homered in three of four

career games against the Padres (40-46).

The Nationals have been swinging the bats well for Gonzalez

(5-3, 3.09 ERA), giving him 17 runs to help him win his last two

starts. He had received 13 total runs during an eight-start winless

streak prior to those victories.

Gonzalez yielded three hits over seven shutout innings to beat

the New York Mets 13-2 on Sunday, leaving him 2-0 with 44

strikeouts and a 1.79 ERA in 40 1-3 innings over his last six

outings.

Gonzalez, 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in two career starts against the

Padres, gave up three runs in 6 2-3 innings before leaving without

a decision in a 6-5 win at San Diego on May 17.

This time, Gonzalez faces a struggling San Diego team that has

totaled seven runs while batting .180 during its losing streak.

Logan Forsythe, Chase Headley and Pedro Ciriaco are a combined 6

for 62 over that span.

“I think it’s looked worse than it has been,” Headley said.

“We’ve had some at-bats in situations where we had a chance to

drive in runs and the guys hit the ball hard and it just hasn’t

gone in the hole for us.”

Jesus Guzman provided a bright spot with three hits as the

Padres dropped to 1-6 on their road trip with an 8-2 loss at Boston

on Thursday.

Everth Cabrera, who leads the team with a .305 average and tops

the NL with 31 steals, was activated from the disabled list Friday

after missing 17 games with an injured left hamstring. San Diego

went 5-12 without Cabrera, who is in the starting lineup.

The Padres hope to avoid their longest losing streak since a

nine-game skid from Aug. 24-Sept. 3, 2011, as they give the ball to

Andrew Cashner (5-3, 3.31) to open this three-game series.

The right-hander has gone 1-0 with a 2.78 ERA while receiving 13

runs to work with in his last five outings. He allowed two runs

over six innings and did not fare in the decision in a 6-2 loss at

Miami on Sunday.

Cashner gave up three runs over 6 2-3 innings in a 13-4 win in

his only career start against the Nationals on May 19.

The teams split that four-game series in San Diego.