Padres-Nationals Preview

Adam Dunn has helped put the Washington Nationals in position to

sweep San Diego for the first time in seven years.

The Nationals look to accomplish that feat against the NL

West-leading Padres at home Thursday night.

Dunn hit a career-high three home runs in Washington’s 7-6 win

over San Diego Wednesday. The Nationals (38-47) have won five of

eight with each of their last four victories decided by one

run.

After securing their second winning series in 12 tries against

the Padres (49-35) since moving to Washington in 2005, the

Nationals look to sweep San Diego for the first time since May 6-8,

2003, when the franchise was in Montreal.

Dunn made that possible after driving in five runs and recording

the first three-homer game in the three-year history of Nationals

Park.

“He’s a prolific home run hitter. That’s what he does,” Padres

manger Bud Black said. “You make a mistake, and at times he’ll make

you pay.”

The veteran slugger, who continues to be the subject of trade

rumors, has hit at least 20 home runs in 10 straight seasons.

“That’s what he can do,” said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who

had an RBI single in Washington’s four-run first inning. “He’s one

of the best, if not the best, power guys in the game for the last

five, six years. It’s good to have him on your team.”

Dunn is 8 for 19 this season against San Diego pitchers, who

have allowed 13 runs in the first two games of the set after

yielding two total while the Padres won three in a row against

Houston.

Dunn and the Nationals could be in for a challenge with San

Diego’s Mat Latos (9-4, 2.62 ERA) trying for a fifth consecutive

victory Thursday.

The second-year right-hander improved to 4-0 with a 1.35 ERA in

his last five starts after giving up four hits in eight innings of

a 3-0 win over Houston on Friday. Latos is 8-1 with a 1.62 ERA in

his last 11 starts

“He’s a bulldog,” teammate Tony Gwynn Jr. said. “He gets up

there and he doesn’t care who’s up there, he executes his

pitches.”

Latos is 2-0 with a 3.09 ERA against the Nationals. He allowed

two runs and struck out eight in six innings of a 4-2 home win over

Washington on May 29.

Adrian Gonzalez had four hits with two RBIs and Matt Stairs tied

a major league record with his 20th career pinch-hit homer

Wednesday for the Padres, who have not dropped three in a row since

being swept by the Dodgers from May 14-16.

Gonzalez is 6 for 9 with a homer and three RBIs in this series.

He will get his first look at Washington rookie Luis Atilano (6-5,

4.72) in the finale.

The right-hander looks to bounce back after giving up five runs

in 3 2-3 innings of a 5-3 loss to the New York Mets on Friday.