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Padres avoid another no-no, but fall to Nats

Special to MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Clayton Richard struck out eight in eight solid innings, but the Padres couldn't provide any support as they came within nine outs of being no-hit for a second time in five days in their 4-0 loss to the Nationals on Tuesday night at Petco Park.

Jeremy Hellickson had a perfect game going until Travis Jankowski shot a single up the middle to lead off the seventh. Two batters later, Franchy Cordero's two-out single chased the Nationals right-hander, but the Padres didn't fare any better against Washington's bullpen as they were shut out for the fifth time and lost for the fourth time in their last six games.

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SAN DIEGO -- Clayton Richard struck out eight in eight solid innings, but the Padres couldn't provide any support as they came within nine outs of being no-hit for a second time in five days in their 4-0 loss to the Nationals on Tuesday night at Petco Park.

Jeremy Hellickson had a perfect game going until Travis Jankowski shot a single up the middle to lead off the seventh. Two batters later, Franchy Cordero's two-out single chased the Nationals right-hander, but the Padres didn't fare any better against Washington's bullpen as they were shut out for the fifth time and lost for the fourth time in their last six games.

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Video: WSH@SD: Jankowski breaks up perfecto with single

"That's not the type of offensive performance we want," manager Andy Green said after the Padres produced three singles and a walk, with 10 strikeouts.

This performance came on the heels of the Dodgers' combined no-hitter vs. the Padres in Friday's Mexico Series opener.

Richard (1-5) held the Nationals to three runs on seven hits while setting season highs for innings and strikeouts.

"It's disappointing," Richard said. "It's tough to lose, and losing stinks."

Video: WSH@SD: Madson induces groundout to escape jam

Richard, who allowed a season-high seven runs in his most recent outing, held Washington hitless through the first four innings. It was quite a contrast from his last go-around,

"It was nothing huge," Richard said. "I was just able to get in a rhythm and attack the strike zone. There wasn't anything special about it. I was just making pitches down in the zone, for the most part, and pitching ahead."

The Nationals strung together three straight hits against him in the fifth, with Matt Adams (double) and Pedro Severino (single) driving in runs for a 2-0 lead.

The Padres fell behind 3-0 when Hellickson added to his big night with an RBI double in the seventh. Richard was hoping the bats would come to life as he kept the Padres within striking distance.

Video: WSH@SD: Hellickson rips an RBI double down the line

"Realizing that if I'm able to keep the game close, that is a big deal," Richard said. "It's not giving in when you give up one run and let it snowball out of control. If you can keep the score to the minimum, it changes the morale, it changes the momentum, it gives you a chance."

The Padres flirted with a rally in the eighth when Raffy Lopez opened with a single. Freddy Galvis then lined a smash through the box, but the ball ricocheted off Brandon Kintzler's glove to shortstop Trea Turner for the start of a 1-6-3 double play. That had Galvis banging his helmet on the ground after crossing first, an illustration of yet another frustrating night for the last-place Padres.

"When [Hellickson] is on, he's got a plus-plus breaking ball," Green said. "He had that today. There are days when he doesn't have that breaking ball and he gets funneled to the middle of the plate and gets squared up from time to time. But I've seen him throw some really good ballgames."

The Padres will try to avoid a sweep on Wednesday, hoping their lineup can be productive while sluggers Wil Myers (oblique) and Hunter Renfroe (elbow) are sidelined.

"Probably where the difference lies is last year when we got in this situation we also hit balls out of the ballpark," Green said. "Without Wil, without Hunter, 56 of our home runs are missing from our lineup right now. So if you have a rough offensive day, power kind of mitigates that a little bit and you end up with a run or two."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Knocked down, but not out: Chase Headley hit a rocket right back to reliever Wander Suero to lead off the ninth. Suero somehow got his glove up to record an out and preserve his smile, as the ball was headed for his face. In making the catch, Suero got knocked on his backside but quickly sprung to his feet.

Video: WSH@SD: Suero snags a hard comebacker from Headley

HE SAID IT
"He was sharp today. Loved what he did. Attacked early. We just didn't do anything offensively to support him." -- Green, on Richard's performance

UP NEXT
Joey Lucchesi (3-2) will face the Nationals for the first time in his career in Wednesday's 6:10 p.m. PT series finale at Petco Park. The rookie southpaw has lasted at least five innings in six of his seven starts. He was on the wrong end of the Dodgers' combined no-hitter on Friday in Mexico. Washington will counter with lefty Gio Gonzalez.

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego.

San Diego Padres, Clayton Richard