Solarte’s HR spoils Strasburg’s return in Padres’ 3-1 win
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Stephen Strasburg was one strike away from getting out of the first inning of his first start in almost a month when switch-hitter Yangervis Solarte drove a fastball into the right-field seats for a two-run home run.
That was enough to carry the Padres past Strasburg and the Washington Nationals 3-1 on Saturday night.
“I know he throws a lot of breaking pitches but sometimes he likes to surprise you. I was ready for that when he threw it,” Solarte said through an interpreter.
“He looked good,” Solarte added. “He had all his pitches, especially his curveball, working off of that fastball. Especially with that combination, fastball-curveball, changeup too, it’s hard to hit. Luckily things turned out pretty well.”
Strasburg (10-4) retired the first two batters he faced before allowing a single to Jose Pirela and then the homer to Solarte, who drove a 96-mph fastball to right for his 13th.
Strasburg then settled down against his hometown team, retiring 10 straight batters and 13 of 14. He went six innings, allowing two runs and four hits while striking out eight and walking one.
He hadn’t pitched since July 23, when he went only two innings at Arizona. He went on the disabled list with an elbow nerve impingement.
“It was coming out good,” Strasburg said. “It was just getting the rust off a little bit. Obviously two strikes, I’ve got to put him away, got to make a better pitch than that. He’s way too good. But other than that, curveball was good, changeup was really good. So I’ve got to bottle it up and trust the process.”
Strasburg pitched at West Hills High in suburban Santee and then at San Diego State for coach Tony Gwynn before going to the Nationals with the No. 1 pick overall in the 2009 draft.
Manager Dusty Baker said Strasburg looked fresh and had good tempo and command, and that the time off should help him down the stretch for the NL East leaders.
“You wouldn’t even know he had been out,” Baker said. “He just made that mistake in the first inning when he got the ball over the plate a little bit for the home run. But other than that, he threw the ball great today.
“Everything was working for him. I hate to lose a game like that because he threw the ball so well. But we hit some balls on the nose and we just couldn’t find the holes off Woody (Travis Wood). You can’t guide it and they made some fine defensive plays.”
Said Padres manager Andy Green: “We didn’t threaten much against him the rest of the way. Pirela had two good swings on heaters away and Solarte the home run. Outside of that, nothing was barreled up. He was really good.”
Pirela had two singles off Strasburg.
While Strasburg pitched well, the Nationals had only three hits.
San Diego’s Wood (2-1) also settled down after laboring through the first inning, when he threw 35 pitches to five batters but didn’t allow a run. He was unscathed until the fifth, when he allowed a one-out single to Jose Lobaton and a two-out double to Adrian Sanchez. The run was unearned because of Woods’ throwing error on Strasburg’s sacrifice bunt that advanced Lobaton.
With two outs in the first, Wood walked Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman, with both batters fouling off several pitches. He then got Howie Kendrick to fly out.
“He was good in the first inning,” Green said. “Just an unbelievable set of circumstances. Four batters into the game and he has 30-some pitches. I’ve never seen that. After that inning he cruised for the most part.”
Wood allowed just the unearned run on three hits in seven innings, with two strikeouts and two walks.
“The first was a battle,” he said. “They fouled off a lot of good pitches. But I felt good in that inning. I just stayed locked in. They were swinging early and I was getting some weak contact. The defense tonight was unbelievable.”
Brad Hand pitched the ninth for his 11th save.
TRADER JACK HONORED
Former general manager Jack McKeon was inducted into the Padres Hall of Fame before the game. Known as “Trader Jack” for his penchant for wheeling and dealing, he made a multitude of deals that lead to the team’s NL pennant in 1984.
He drafted Tony Gwynn and Kevin McReynolds, and traded for Garry Templeton, Terry Kennedy, Graig Nettles, Carmelo Martinez and Dave Dravecky. McKeon also signed Steve Garvey and Goose Gossage as free agents.
Nationals: Strasburg took the roster spot of RHP Max Scherzer, who went on the DL Friday night, retroactive to Tuesday, with inflammation in his neck.
Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez (11-5, 2.49 ERA) is scheduled to start Sunday’s series finale. He has won his last three starts and four of his last five.
Padres: Rookie RHP Dinelson Lamet (7-4, 4.78) has earned the win in four of his last five starts since July 23 and is 4-1 in six starts at Petco Park.
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