Jankowski steps up, but Padres fall to Nats
SAN DIEGO -- The momentum the Padres seized in the Mexico Series didn't cross the border, as they fell to the Washington Nationals, 8-5, on Monday night.
The Padres, fresh from taking two of three from the Dodgers in Monterrey, were kept in check by Stephen Strasburg (4-3). The San Diego native and former San Diego State star beat the Padres for the seventh time in nine career decisions.
Tyson Ross (2-3) was locked in a 1-1 duel with Strasburg through the first five innings, but the Nationals scored four times vs. Ross in the sixth, highlighted by the first of two Matt Adams home runs.
Ross, who last faced the Nationals in 2015, lost for the first time in three starts at Petco Park this season. It was the fourth straight outing for Ross without a win.
"I was just kind of grinding through it early on," Ross said. "I threw a lot of pitches in the first two innings and I was just trying to find ways to get some outs."
The high point for the Padres? The play of the gritty right fielder Travis Jankowski.
"He was really good," Padres manager Andy Green said. "He will be right back in the leadoff spot tomorrow and right back in the outfield."
Jankowski is trying to compensate for lost time. After playing in 131 games for the Padres last year, he didn't make the Opening Day roster. He was the odd man out in an outfield that got crowded with the infusion of youngsters and William Myers moving from first base to right field. When the demotion came, Jankowski admitted it was tough to digest.
"That's not news anyone wants to hear in any occupation -- that you are not at the top of your game and you can't compete at the highest level, which is Major League Baseball," he said. "To be straight up, man, it sucked."
But Jankowski was here, there and everywhere in trying to take the wind out of the Nationals' sails. He had two hits, scored a run and made two sensational catches in the right field.
On one, he made a leaping grab of a Bryce Harper drive while crashing into the right-center-field fence. His second snag came when racing in from right to collect a short fly ball that it originally looked like second baseman Jose Pirela would corral.
"It was one of those in-betweeners," Jankowski said. "He looked at me and I looked at him, and thank God I caught it."
But not before Jankowski displayed the speed that makes him among the fastest Padres.
"His outfield play was impressive, and probably the most impressive one was that sliding catch he had coming in," Green said. "When you check your infielder and realize he's not going to catch the ball and you have one more gear to find ... he did some really good things out there."
That he's doing it in San Diego and not Triple-A El Paso is big. Jankowski said the attitude he eventually displayed in El Paso helped him return to the Majors.
"It took me a few days to get over it, but once I got to El Paso the coach said, 'Listen man, go out and play your game, play like you know you can, and you will be back in no time.'
"Unfortunately some injuries happened up here. But you got to make the most of the opportunities you get because they are few and far between. So I'm just trying to hit the ground running and make the most out of this opportunity I have."
The left-handed-hitting Jankowski has done that since being called up on April 29. He's hit safely in six of his eight games, batting .348 (8-for-23) over that span.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ross gives up rare homer: After not allowing a home run in five of his six previous starts this season, Ross surrendered one to the game's second batter, Trea Turner. Turner, who was the Padres' No. 1 pick in the 2014 Draft, put the Nationals ahead, 1-0, with his third homer of the season in his first career at-bat at Petco Park. The shortstop was sent to Washington in the three-team trade that brought Myers to San Diego in '14.
"He's a good ballplayer," said Ross, who went on to allow a season-high five runs. "He put a good swing on a bad pitch."
Pirela, please: Harper hit a rocket to short right field, where Pirela was stationed in the fifth inning. Pirela dove to his left to snag the shot and then from his knees got enough on his one-hop throw to first baseman Eric Hosmer to retire Harper and end the inning.
HE SAID IT
"There were some better swings against a top-of-the-rotation guy than we have in the past. We'll take those positives." -- Green, on the Padres' attack against Strasburg
The Padres are hoping the Nationals are the tonic for what ails Clayton Richard. The left-hander will start the middle contest of this three-game set, with Tuesday's first pitch at 7:10 p.m. PT. Richard (1-4, 6.21 ERA) allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) against the Giants on Wednesday. But against the Nationals, Richard owes a 3.67 ERA, his lowest mark against any National League opponent (min. 8 starts), although he's 1-4 against them.