Rookie Soto injecting life into Nationals against Padres

WASHINGTON — Rookie outfielder Juan Soto‘s impact on the Washington Nationals lineup was immediate.

Soto hit a three-run homer on the first pitch he saw in the first at-bat of his first start and the Nationals rolled over the San Diego Padres 10-2 Monday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

Washington’s Jeremy Hellickson (1-0, 2.20 ERA) opposes rookie Eric Lauer (1-2, 8.14) in the middle game of the series Tuesday night.

Soto’s long ball was contagious as Mark Reynolds hit two home runs and Bryce Harper connected for his National League-leading 14th.

“I thought as a team, we really swung the bat well,” Harper told MLB.com. “Really jumped on them early and did the things we could to put some runs up there on the board. Of course, it started with that three-run homer by Soto. Got it going and we never stopped.”

The 19-year-old Soto — Washington’s No. 2 prospect — was called up to be Washington’s primary left fielder following a string of outfield injuries. He struck out as a pinch hitter Sunday in his first Major League at-bat, but on Monday night became the first teenager to homer since teammate Harper in 2012.

“It’s exciting,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez told the Washington Post. “It’s uplifting. Here’s a young man getting a chance to play in the big leagues at an early age. It pumps everyone up.”

Gio Gonazalez (5-2) allowed two runs on two hits over seven innings.

The Nationals, who were swept by the Dodgers over the weekend, pounded out 15 hits, seven for extra bases.

San Diego’s Robbie Erlin (1-3) was gone after four innings and six runs in a spot start.

If Soto is in the lineup Tuesday night, he will face fellow rookie Lauer, who will be making his sixth start and first against the Nationals.

The left-hander allowed four runs over 4 2/3 innings, walking three and allowing six hits in his last start, versus the Pirates. That was a vast improvement over his previous effort in which he allowed six Cardinals’ runs and didn’t make it through the third.

Through three innings against the Pirates the 22-year-old Lauer had allowed one baserunner.

“It should be a revelation for him: ‘Oh that’s how I pitch here — aggressively,'” Padres manage Andy Green told MLB.com regarding Lauer’s first trip through the order.

Lauer’s velocity improved from his previous start as well.

“I don’t know why it was down,” Lauer told MLB.com. “I don’t think my velo is a huge factor, because I don’t throw 97 (mph). As long as I’m making pitches, I don’t care if it’s 86 or 92.”

Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (1-0, 2.20) goes for Washington. Hellickson’s starts for the Nationals have been relatively short but sweet. He’s allowed one earned run over his last three starts.

His longest outing this season has been 6 2/3 scoreless innings and that came against the Padres on May 8, when he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning for a win. Martinez has generally opted to remove him after two trips through the opponent’s batting order.

In nine career starts versus San Diego, Hellickson is 3-4 with a 5.80 ERA.

Wil Myers is 6-for-14 with two homers against Hellickson and Corey Spangenberg is 6-for-10. Eric Hosmer is 5-for-24 (.208).