WASHINGTON (AP) - Melvin Upton Jr. gave the Padres help on both offense and defense Thursday night. It just was not enough to get San Diego a win.
Upton threw out one runner at the plate, another on the base paths and got the team’s only extra-base hit of the game but the Washington Nationals managed a 4-2 victory over the Padres in the finale of their three-game series.
After splitting the first two games with Washington, the Padres were trying to win a fifth straight series. Upton tried to get them there but couldn’t quite do it. He finished 1 for 4 with the two assists.
“Melvin not only played great defense … (but he) made a great throw to the plate and he also hit the ball hard twice,” San Diego manager Pat Murphy said. “He’s playing as good of baseball as I’ve seen him play.”
On defense, Upton tried for a diving catch on Anthony Rendon’s sinking liner in the third inning. The umpires ruled he trapped the ball but Washington’s Jayson Werth was caught between first and second after not seeing their sign.
Upton quickly jumped up and threw back to the infield where first baseman Yonder Alonso tagged Werth. The play was ruled a force out with Upton getting the assist.
In the fifth, Ryan Zimmerman came up with the game tied 1-1 and the bases loaded. He singled to center to drive in one run. Upton then made a perfect throw to the plate to nail Bryce Harper for his second assist.
“Out of the hand, I thought it was going to be high,” Upton said. “Where I was positioned in the outfield when it was hit, I knew I had a shot at him.”
Upton crushed a triple to deep center in the seventh with two outs, but third baseman Rendon then made a diving stop of pinch-hitter Jedd Gyorko’s shot by the foul line and threw him out to end the inning.
Werth added a solo homer off starter Andrew Cashner (5-13) in the sixth before Zimmerman did the same against Kevin Quackenbush in the seventh for a 4-1 lead.
Joe Ross (5-5), who the Padres traded to Washington in the offseason, threw six innings of one-hit ball and got the win. Jonathan Papelbon closed it in the ninth with his fourth save since joining Washington despite giving up a run on Alonso’s two-out single.
The Padres finished with three hits.
Cory Spangenberg led off the fourth with a bunt single in front of the plate. He ended up at third on the play when catcher Wilson Ramos made a wild throw.
Yangervis Solarte followed with a sacrifice fly that gave San Diego a 1-0 lead.
The Nationals took the lead with two runs in the fifth. Cashner hit Yunel Escobar with the bases loaded to tie the game, Zimmerman added his tie-breaking single for a lead Washington never lost.
Escobar (hand contusion) and Taylor (knee contusion) left the game after getting hurt, and manager Matt Williams said they are day-to-day.
However, Williams added that center fielder Denard Span had a setback - he came off the disabled list this week after missing 40 games with back issues - and will go back on the DL with left hip inflammation. His season could be over, another blow to the injury-riddled Nationals.
“That’s kind of how this year’s gone,” Zimmerman said. “But we’ve got to play through it, and we’ve got to find a way to keep winning games and keep winning series.”
A BIG SERIES
Zimmerman’s two RBIs gave him eight, his highest total for a series this season. He got the go-ahead RBI and later gave the Nationals an insurance run with his solo homer.
Nationals: Escobar left in the sixth, an inning after getting hit on the right wrist with the bases loaded. He has a right hand contusion and is day-to-day. . Taylor came out in the seventh after crashing into the wall - and tearing a piece of the padding - trying to make a catch. He has a right knee contusion and is also day-to-day.
Padres: OF Matt Kemp was out of the lineup due to a sore left shoulder that he hurt diving for a ball in Wednesday’s game. He’s day-to-day. … RHP Josh Johnson (Tommy John surgery) threw off the mound and felt good Wednesday. He will throw again in a few days.
Padres RHP Ian Kennedy (8-11, 4.01) starts the opener of San Diego’s weekend series in Philadelphia. The Nationals send RHP Max Scherzer (11-10, 2.79) out to kick off their series with Miami on Friday.
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