WASHINGTON -- Tyson Ross hasn't really thought of himself as a stopper, but if the Padres keep responding they way they do in his starts, he'll have to get comfortable with the label.Ross was in command Wednesday, helping the Padres erase a two-game skid and salvage the finale against the
WASHINGTON -- Tyson Ross hasn't really thought of himself as a stopper, but if the Padres keep responding they way they do in his starts, he'll have to get comfortable with the label.
Ross was in command Wednesday, helping the Padres erase a two-game skid and salvage the finale against the Nationals in a 3-1 triumph at Nationals Park. Ross now has a team-high seven quality starts on the season, all resulting in Padres wins.
"That's the mindset every starter has got to have," Ross said. "When it's your turn to take the ball, you have to believe that you're an ace. It was my turn today. It's a rotation of five, but when it's your turn to go, you have to give the team a chance."
The right-hander was on cruise control for most of the afternoon, keeping the Nationals off-balance with a mix of fastballs and sliders. Ross (4-3) registered nine strikeouts, most of which came courtesy of his slider.
"He was outstanding," manager Andy Green said. "I've said that over and over almost every time he takes the mound right now; it's like a broken record. He just continues to execute. The fastball's cutting, the cutter's cutting more and the slider is -- it's just three pitches kind of going the same direction. You could tell today, they were having trouble with the spin, in general."
With the exception of Matt Adams, who was 3-for-3 with a seventh-inning home run against him, Ross had little trouble with the Nationals' lineup, scattering five singles in his 6 2/3 innings of work.
"I felt good out there today," Ross said. "I was making sure to finish [my slider]. Last time I faced them a few starts ago, I left a few up with two strikes, and that's where they did all their damage. I was just trying to get through that pitch and keep it down."
In addition, Ross continues to be a workhorse, tossing 110 pitches in the victory, his fifth straight 100-plus pitch outing.
"You do all the preparation in the offseason to get yourself built up so you can take the ball 35 times and throw 100 pitches [and] six, seven innings, whatever it may be," Ross said. "That was the mindset I had in the offseason. I was finally healthy after a few years of injuries and that was my goal -- to get back to where I was before. Every five days, I'm taking the hill and going 100-plus [pitches] and hopefully six-plus innings."
Ross' record isn't better because hasn't gotten much help from his offense, with just 19 runs of support in his prior nine starts, but the Friars were able to break through to get him the victory. Brad Hand recorded the final five outs for his 15th save, ending a two-on, no-out rally by striking out Michael A. Taylor and inducing a game-ending double play from Spencer Kieboom.
"We did enough," Green said. "You look back at this road trip … and it's a good 4-3 East Coast swing for us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Margot comes through: In a game where runs were at a premium, Manuel Margot picked an opportune time to break out of a 5-for-31 skid and put the Padres on the board first. In the fifth inning, with Freddy Galvis on second and two outs, Margot was able to shoot a ball through the right side of the infield and Galvis hustled home to beat the throw from Bryce Harper.
"It's been tough for Manny," Green said. "That's a big at-bat. I know they were over there debating whether to walk him or not, and he got an opportunity to get a pitch to hit, and he drove in the run and kind of broke the seal for us."
Insurance from Villanueva: The Padres put up a crooked number in the sixth when Eric Hosmer beat the shift for a single to left and Franchy Cordero drew a two-out walk. Christian Villanueva followed with a deep drive to the right-field corner that clanged off Bryce Harper's glove, allowing both runs to score and give the Padres some breathing room at 3-0. Originally ruled a two-base error, the scoring was later changed, giving Villanueva a double and two RBIs.
"In those situations, you're always trying to put the ball in play and for me, personally, I love hitting in those situations," Villanueva said through interpreter David Longley. "My teammates did a good job of getting on base and we were able to come through in those important situations."
HE SAID IT
"Just being tall. That's about it." -- Eric Hosmer, on his snag of an errant throw by Hand in the eighth, preventing Harper from coming to the plate as the potential tying run
The Padres have an off-day Thursday, which might be a good thing, since they are 0-5 on that particular day of the week. The 10-day road trip continues Friday with a 7:10 p.m. PT start against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, where Clayton Richard (3-5, 4.87) faces off against Los Angeles' Thomas Stripling (1-1, 2.08).
** Elliott Smith ** is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.