SAN DIEGO -- Matt Grace and five other Nationals relievers did their best Max Scherzer impressions Friday night in a 7-1 victory over the Padres at Petco Park.When Scherzer, a late scratch with neck inflammation, was sent to the disabled list, Grace received the spot start in his place. Grace
SAN DIEGO -- Matt Grace and five other Nationals relievers did their best Max Scherzer impressions Friday night in a 7-1 victory over the Padres at Petco Park.
When Scherzer, a late scratch with neck inflammation, was sent to the disabled list, Grace received the spot start in his place. Grace made his first career start count, tossing 4 1/3 scoreless frames on 52 pitches, before handing it off to his fellow relievers. Shawn Kelley, Joe Blanton, Oliver Perez, Matt Albers and Sammy Solis combined to allow one run over the final 4 2/3.
"That was big," National manager Dusty Baker said. "These guys, they kind of know when they're going to be used now. I was glad to see Kelley get his feet wet. Blanton is throwing the ball better than he had been all year. It's right on time. It's just great to see everybody contribute."
The Nats led throughout, following Howie Kendrick's leadoff blast against Luis Perdomo. The Padres right-hander was relatively sharp after that, but he got little help from his defense. In six-plus frames, Perdomo allowed five runs (three earned) on six hits and three walks.
"I felt really good," Perdomo said through an interpreter. "Obviously the results didn't end up the way we would've wanted. I got a lot of ground balls today. That's the type of pitcher I am. I'm a ground-ball guy, and I was able to do that. That's good, but at the same time, it was a game we lost."
San Diego's only offense came in the fifth, when Dusty Coleman -- starting mainly because of his defense -- crushed his fourth home run, a shot to the upper deck in left field. But the Padres, who committed three errors and mustered only four hits, did little else to help Perdomo.
"He was one of the few bright spots in the game," Padres manager Andy Green said of Perdomo. "It was one of our uglier games, if not our ugliest game, in the last couple months. We did not play good baseball in any facet."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sloppy seventh: The Nationals put the game out of reach in the seventh inning, aided by two costly Padres errors. Andrew Stevenson led off the frame with a single, then stole second and reached third on Austin Hedges' errant thrown. Alejandro De Aza followed by lifting a deep fly ball to center field, where Manuel Margot dropped his two-handed catch attempt. De Aza reached second and scored on Kendrick's single, spelling the end of Perdomo's night.
"When you try to reach above your head with two hands while you're running full speed, it's an incredibly difficult thing to do," Green said of Margot's error. "Just trust his athleticism. He catches almost everything with two hands, which isn't necessarily a problem. But sometimes you get outside of your body and you've got to reach back [with one]."
Robbery in center: The Padres didn't square up many baseballs against Grace. When they did, the Nationals' defense was there to negate it. Michael A. Taylor provided the night's best glovework with a brilliant catch to rob Yangervis Solarte of a home run in the second. Solarte smashed a deep drive to straightaway center, sending Taylor to the track. He leaped and caught the ball in one swift motion, barely making contact with the outfield wall.
"Awesome team win," Grace said. "Mikey making that play in the beginning, and then just the defense in general, honestly. That's a pretty cool win to be a part of right there."
"I really put the bullpen in jeopardy tonight and for him to be able to deliver what this ballclub needed, that really did a number for our team." -- Scherzer, on Grace
"We had two hours to switch gears and come off Max Scherzer. We just didn't have good at-bats throughout the day." -- Green, when asked about the impact of the Nationals' pitching switch
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Padres were held without an extra-base hit for the first time since June 19 -- a span of 51 games.
Nationals:Stephen Strasburg, a San Diego native, is scheduled to come off the disabled list Saturday to face the Padres at 8:40 p.m. ET. The right-hander's 3.25 ERA was the sixth best in the National League entering play Friday.
Padres:Travis Wood gets the ball Saturday as the Padres face the Nationals in the third game of their four-game set. It will be Wood's ninth career appearance at Petco Park, where he owns a 2.75 lifetime ERA. First pitch is slated for 5:40 p.m. PT.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.
Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. He covered the Nationals on Friday.