Padres rally in ninth, but fall in 10 to Nats
Headley and Blanks drive in late runs, but homer stings Street
SAN DIEGO -- It's not the distance of the hit, but the cost of them that bothers Huston Street the most.
"They're runs on the board and that's all that really matters to me in the end," said the Padres' closer.
Street was dinged again on Friday, as he allowed a pinch-hit home run to Chad Tracy in the 10th inning, which proved to be the critical blow in the Nationals' 6-5 victory over the Padres in front of a crowd of 29,898 at Petco Park.
Street has already allowed six home runs this season in 17 1/3 innings and three home runs in his last three appearances. For perspective, Street allowed two home runs in 39 innings last season.
"It's only six swings, but its six homers," Street said. "Sometimes you give up six hits and they're singles and it's on the same pitch. You go through streaks like that. Baseball is a streaky game."
Tracy's home run with two outs in the 10th inning was one of five home runs hit Friday, as teammates Adam LaRoche (two home runs) and Ryan Zimmerman also went deep. San Diego rookie Jedd Gyorko also hit a home run, his fourth.
On a rare night game in May when the ball carried well, the rally the Padres pieced together in the ninth inning was comprised of small -- but important -- hits, as they rallied from a two-run deficit to tie the game.
In that inning, Chase Headley and Kyle Blanks each had two-out, RBI singles off Nationals reliever Rafael Soriano to force extra innings.
"I do think it helped last night that he [Soriano] was out there for 20-plus pitches and some guys got a look at him," said Padres manager Bud Black. "We put some at-bats together. We didn't sting the ball, but we battled."
But that momentum didn't last long, as Tracy jumped on a changeup from Street, a pitch that Street said Tracy "put a good swing on."
Street, now in his ninth big league season, can be as humbled just as easily as a hard-throwing, 23-year-old rookie.
San Diego starting pitcher Burch Smith, who in his Major League debut didn't get an out in the second inning and allowed six runs to the Rays, pitched considerably better against the Nationals.
Charged with the edict of mixing in more changeups and curveballs, Smith sprinkled in more secondary pitches this time, though he got a lot of mileage out of his mid-90s fastball, especially early in the game.
"I felt like I made an improvement and I was able to mix up some pitches," Smith said. "It's all a learning process."
Smith struck out five of the first 11 hitters he faced and blazed through the Nos. 5, 6 and 7 hitters in the Nationals' lineup in order with strikeouts in the second inning.
"He came out firing," Black said.
Smith allowed singles to Bryce Harper and Zimmerman to start the fourth inning, though he was ahead in the count of each batter. Smith then left a fastball out over the plate to LaRoche, who hit it into the sand box beyond the center field wall.
Two innings later, Smith allowed consecutive home runs to Zimmerman and LaRoche, as the Nationals took a 5-2 lead. Smith admitted afterward that, by that point, he was starting to tire.
"I felt like I lost some velocity," he said. "[The home runs] were up and over the plate. Guys at this level will make you pay for it."
All told, Smith allowed five runs on six hits with one walk and eight strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
But, Black said, there were enough positive signs to lead him to believe that Smith will be fine moving forward. There's ability, good command of the fastball and a high aptitude.
"He'll get there," Black said. "There's a lot to like about his stuff. There's a lot to like about his delivery. He's going to be fine long-term."
The Padres scored first as Blanks had an RBI single in the first inning off Gio Gonzalez with another run scoring on the same play when Harper's wild throw to third base that bounced into the seats, allowing another run to trot home.
Gyorko hit his home run off Gonzalez in the sixth inning, helping set up a wild ninth inning that forced extra innings.
After Tracy's home run, the Padres got one-out singles from John Baker and Alexi Amarista in the 10th inning. But Nationals reliever Drew Storen struck out Chris Denorfia and then got Everth Cabrera to ground out to Zimmerman to end the game.
"That was a blip for Soriano," said Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He has been really good. But a good opportunity for Drew and he did the job."