WASHINGTON — Thanks to their pitching, the San Diego Padres have hovered around the .500 mark despite having the second-lowest batting average in the National League.
On Friday night, their hurlers didn’t give them a chance. Three San Diego pitchers surrendered 17 hits as the Washington Nationals clubbed the Padres 11-1.
“I think tonight was a function of three (young) pitchers not commanding their fastball,” manager Bud Black said. “You’ve got to command your fastball in this league and if you don’t, major league hitters are going to have you pay.”
San Diego’s Robbie Erlin (1-3) was the primary victim, allowing eight runs and 13 hits over 5 1-3 innings. He struck out three and walked two.
“Everything was elevated and I worked behind most of the night,” Erlin said, “so put those two together, kind of put me in some holes and let runners on and they got a few big hits.”
Rookies Kevin Quackenbush, in his major league debut, and Donn Roach allowed three runs in 2 2-3 innings of relief.
Everth Cabrera had three hits for the Padres.
Bryce Harper drove in a career-high four runs before leaving the game with a jammed thumb, and Stephen Strasburg pitched seven scoreless innings for the Nationals.
Harper drove in a run with an infield single in the first and had a bases-loaded triple in the third. Following his headfirst dive into third base on the triple, Harper flexed his left wrist.
“I slid into the bag and I caught it a little bit,” he said of his thumb. “Went into the dugout, swung a couple in the cage, felt fine. Went out to the outfield, it swelled up a little bit. So (up 6-0) I thought we were in a good spot, and (manager) Matt (Williams) did too, so I got in and got some treatment on it.”
He was replaced in left field by Nate McLouth to start the fifth inning.
Williams said X-rays were negative and Harper would be re-evaluated Saturday.
Strasburg (2-2) allowed seven hits and walked two, but struck out 11. He lowered his ERA from 5.33 to 4.24.
One night after Washington went 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position in a 4-3 12-inning loss, the Nationals bounced back by going 7 for 17, including 5 for 7 over the first three innings as they built a 6-0 lead.
Harper, who came in with five RBIs in his first 21 games, nearly doubled that.
With runners on first and second and two outs in the first, Ian Desmond lined Erlin’s first pitch to right-center for a double, scoring Anthony Rendon. Harper followed with an infield single up the middle to make it 2-0.
In the third, with one out and the bases loaded, Harper drilled a 3-2 pitch off the wall in right.
Three runners scored and Harper, under increased scrutiny since his benching last Saturday for not running out a grounder to the pitcher, was looking triple all the way and slid in ahead of the relay. He scored on a single by Jose Lobaton to make it 6-0.
In two career starts against Washington, Erlin has allowed 17 runs in 9 1-3 innings.
Pitching against his hometown team, Strasburg allowed at least one baserunner in six of his seven innings, but the Padres couldn’t get a timely hit.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the third, Yonder Alonso flied to left. In the fourth, the Padres had first and second with one out, but Xavier Nady struck out and, on the pitch, Lobaton caught Nick Hundley roaming too far off first.
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