Tatis Jr.'s return helps spark Padres over Nationals, 5-4
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres played with a different energy level with prized rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. back in the lineup and getting his uniform dirty after more than a month on the injured list.
Tatis caused some havoc on the basepaths during the go-ahead rally in the fifth inning and Joey Lucchesi settled down after falling behind 4-0 in the first to lead the Padres to a 5-4 victory against the Washington Nationals on Thursday night. The Padres retired the final 20 Nats batters.
"It's great to be back, and it was even better just the way we came back and got a W," said Tatis, who missed 34 games after straining his left hamstring in a loss at Washington on April 28.
"We're a different club with him on the field," manager Andy Green said. "I think it's pretty obvious. Everybody's like that with their best players. His speed, his walks today, aggression at third base changed probably the key play of the game."
The 20-year-old Tatis singled in the fifth and scored the second of three Padres runs that gave San Diego the lead. An error by third baseman Anthony Rendon, forced by Tatis' speed, led to two unearned runs.
Manuel Margot hit a leadoff single and went to third on Tatis' single to right field. Wil Myers walked to load the bases for Manny Machado, whose grounder to shortstop brought in Margot. With Tatis charging for third, Rendon couldn't handle Trea Turner's throw for what would have been a force out, allowing Tatis to score the tying run.
Franmil Reyes followed with a go-ahead sacrifice fly.
"I love creating chaos," Tatis said. "I saw the ground ball and immediately thought, OK, there was going to be like a 95% chance he's coming to third, trying to get an easy out and I'm going to force this and try to create something different."
Said Turner: "Slow-hit ball, kind of a spinner so I didn't think I had the double play and I figured I had momentum going to third so I figured it was the right play. Looking back at it I think if I make a better throw we get out of that inning with the lead and probably win the game. It kind of was the difference. I don't think it was the wrong play. I think it was the right play and stick by it."
Lucchesi said Tatis brings a lot of energy to the team
"Everyone's excited he's back," the big lefty said. "Another great bat in our lineup; great all-around player and he's a good teammate."
The Padres snapped the Nationals' four-game winning streak.
Lucchesi (5-3) won on his 25th birthday. He allowed four runs and four hits on 95 pitches in five innings. He struck out five and walked three. Kirby Yates pitched the ninth for big league-leading 23rd save.
Washington lefty Patrick Corbin (5-4) threw 101 pitches in five innings, allowing five runs — three earned — on five hits. He struck out six and walked five.
Lucchesi gave up Howie Kendrick's two-run single followed by Brian Dozier's two-run homer with two outs in the first. It was Dozier's ninth. Lucchesi threw 64 pitches through two innings and 79 through three but didn't allow any more runs. He ended his night with a perfect fourth and fifth.
Hunter Renfroe started San Diego's comeback with a two-run homer to right-center in the second, his 18th. Reyes was aboard on a leadoff walk.
"You can't walk five guys," Corbin said. "I gave them too many baserunners today. Made a mistake on the homer, another 3-1 count there. Just got to be in the zone more."
Nationals: RHP Erick Fedde (1-0, 2.55 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday night. He threw four innings of two-hit shutout relief against the Padres on April 28 at Nationals Park.
Padres: Rookie LHP Nick Margevicius (2-6, 5.40) is 0-3 with an 11.25 ERA in his last three starts. He allowed five runs — four earned — and six hits in three-plus innings of a 9-3 loss to Miami on Saturday night.