SAN DIEGO -- When the Nationals signed Matt Adams as a free agent this offseason, they saw him as a power hitter ready to boost their bench. As injuries have left them shorthanded, however, the Nats have created new ways to keep Adams in the lineup, and their hottest hitter continues to reward them.
Adams homered twice and drove in five runs to lead the Nationals to an 8-5 victory over the Padres on Monday night, their eighth win in their last nine games. It's his second multihomer game in a week. He has seven home runs and 13 RBIs in seven games this month as Washington has pulled to within 1 1/2 games of the National League East lead.
"It's huge," Adams said. "I think just the way the team is designed, we go out there and play the game hard. For me to be able to contribute the way that I'm doing, it means a lot. I also think it means a lot the way the team has bounced back from a little rocky start. We knew all along that this was what this team is capable of doing."
Padres right-hander Tyson Ross was locked in a 1-1 duel with Stephen Strasburg -- allowing only a first-inning homer by Trea Turner -- until the Nats broke through for four runs in the sixth on their third time through the order. They started the rally with five straight batted balls that had exit velocities exceeding 100 mph, including an RBI double from Anthony Rendon, a two-run home run by Adams and a run-scoring single from Matt Wieters.
Adams began his tear starting in left field before filling in at first base the past three games while Ryan Zimmerman nurses a sore left side. Back at his more familiar position on Monday, Adams made a nifty diving stop to rob Chase Headley of a hit in the seventh inning.
"He's playing good defense," manager Dave Martinez said. "He's really, really good right now. He really is. He's having fun. He loves it here. He's having fun, and it shows on the field."
Adams' second home run, in the seventh against left-hander Matt Strahm, was his first home run off a lefty this season. It increased his total to 10 overall, second on the team behind Bryce Harper's 12. The Padres are starting left-handers the next two games, which perhaps in the past would be a chance for Adams to rest.
Considering the way he is swinging the bat, however, Martinez said he would try to get Adams into the lineup in at least one of these games.
"You just kind of let him do his thing," Martinez said. "Whatever he's thinking about, whatever he's doing, keep going. You just kind of look the other way and keep patting him on the butt and say nice going."
HE SAID IT
"[Rendon] has a new favorite player. I'm out. A little upset about that. … I've been informed. I guess I got kicked to the curb that quick. It's fun watching him play, other than I lost my job, or my title." -- Turner, on Adams' hot streak
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Strasburg completed a solid homecoming in his hometown, throwing a season-high 109 pitches in seven innings of three-run ball to protect the Nats advantage. He is now 7-2 with a 3.05 ERA in nine career games vs San Diego.
Turner, who was drafted by the Padres in the first round in 2014, homered in his first career at-bat at Petco Park. He is batting .346 in his career against his former organization. More >
Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson will take the ball for the Nationals, aiming to complete six innings for the first time this season Tuesday night's against the Padres at Petco Park. In Hellickson's two most recent outings, he was removed in the sixth despite throwing just 57 and 61 pitches, respectively. Left-hander Clayton Richard will start for San Diego with first pitch at 10:10 p.m. ET.