Padres-Nationals Preview

The San Diego Padres have struggled offensively during their

longest losing streak in nearly two years. Considering they’ll face

one of the top pitchers in baseball in Sunday’s series finale

against the Washington Nationals, that could very well

continue.

Stephen Strasburg takes on San Diego’s scuffling lineup looking

to deal the visiting Padres a ninth straight defeat.

The Padres scored nine total runs in the first two games of this

series after managing seven in the first six losses. They still

squandered opportunities, however, going 3 for 23 with runners in

scoring position in the last two contests.

Pedro Ciriaco, Chris Denorfia and Logan Forsythe have had an

especially rough go of late. Ciriaco and Denorfia are both 3 for 20

and Forsythe is 4 for 30 during the eight-game skid.

San Diego hasn’t lost nine in a row since Aug. 24-Sept. 3,

2011.

Now the Padres must face Strasburg (4-6, 2.24 ERA), who has

posted a 1.29 ERA in his last nine starts. One of those outings was

a 6-2 win at San Diego on May 16 in which he gave up two runs – one

earned – and three hits over eight innings.

The right-hander, though, is just 3-2 during that stretch as

he’s suffered from a lack of run support. The Nationals have lost

three of Strasburg’s last four starts after totaling four runs for

him.

He threw seven scoreless innings and gave up three hits to the

Brewers on Tuesday, striking out eight, in a 4-0 loss. Strasburg

didn’t get a decision.

“You know I’m tired of talking about that,” he said of the lack

of run support. “These guys battle every single day, just like I

do, and it just didn’t work for us tonight.”

Perhaps Bryce Harper, announced as an All-Star starter Saturday,

can provide some offense for Strasburg. Manager Davey Johnson

initially planned on giving Harper Saturday and Sunday off after he

went 1 for 19 in his first five games since returning from left

knee bursitis.

Harper, though, successfully lobbied to play Saturday and went 1

for 2 with a walk and three RBIs, including driving in the tying

run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly.

Harper and the Nationals will face Robbie Erlin (1-1, 4.34) for

the first time as the rookie left-hander makes his fourth career

start. Erlin took the loss in his last outing, giving up three runs

in 3 2-3 innings of a 4-1 defeat at Boston on Tuesday, his shortest

start of the season.

A day after getting Everth Cabrera back from injury, the Padres

lost another player Saturday. Catcher Yasmani Grandal will be

placed on the 15-day disabled list after suffering a right knee

injury in a home plate collision with Anthony Rendon.

Jesus Guzman remained hot Saturday, going 2 for 4 with a

three-run homer that was the Padres’ only hit in 14 at-bats with

runners in scoring position. He’s 9 for 18 with four doubles and

two home runs in six games during San Diego’s losing streak.