Nats drop second straight to Padres

Nats drop second straight to Padres

WASHINGTON -- The first pitch that left Chris Young's hand left the yard, when Alfonso Soriano hit his third leadoff home run of the season to tie the game at 1.

But after that, Young settled in, and Washington wasn't able to muster much more offense.

That lack of offense -- a problem for the Nationals all season long -- led to the team's third loss in its last four games, as San Diego won, 5-2, at RFK Stadium, limiting Washington to two runs for the second straight night.

"I was thinking, 'We tied the game; it's going to be a good night for us,'" said Soriano of his thoughts after his home run, the 26th leadoff shot of his career. "But Chris Young pitched a very good game tonight."

The Nationals had six hits and one walk after Soriano's homer, putting five runners in scoring position, but only one of those men scored. The team left five on base, hitting 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

On Friday night, the Nationals stranded six runners, going 1-for-6 with men in scoring position.

"We're just not putting anything together offensively right now," manager Frank Robinson said.

The Padres did most of their damage early in the fourth inning. Washington starter Pedro Astacio gave up four straight hits, including two home runs, on his first nine pitches of the inning.

"We went out and gave up a few runs," shortstop Royce Clayton said, "and had to play catch up all over again."

Adrian Gonzalez hit a home run on the first pitch of the inning, his second straight game with a long ball. Mark Bellhorn followed shortly thereafter with another first-pitch homer, scoring two more runs.

"[Astacio] wasn't getting the pitches where he should," Robinson said. "That's not good pitching there in that situation."

Astacio lasted only 3 2/3 innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on nine hits. It was Astacio's second start of the season, after he missed the first three months with a right forearm strain. He allowed one run in five innings his first time out.

Five relievers followed Astacio, combining to give up no runs and five hits over 5 1/3 innings. The Washington bullpen has been used often recently, with six of the seven relievers -- closer Chad Cordero being the lone exception -- pitching in one of the last two games. But the 'pen has not given up a run in 17 straight innings.

Young, a candidate in the All-Star Final Vote competition, improved to 8-4 on the season. He struck out nine in six-plus innings, giving up two runs on seven hits.

"He was deceptive," Clayton said. "There was a lot of life on the ball ... it kind of jumps out at you."

The 6-foot-10 Young was formerly in the Montreal/Washington farm system, but was traded to Texas in 2004. He's 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA over his last eight starts.

"He moved the ball around the strike zone," Robinson said. "He pitched a good ballgame."

President George W. Bush was in attendance for his first Nationals game of the season, along with his wife, Laura. Bush went to two games last season and saw Washington win both times. Joining the president in a luxury box were Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Michael Gluskin is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.