Burch Smith has another chance to make a good impression at the big league level tonight. He'll try to follow up last Saturday's disastrous ML debut with a solid outing against the Nationals tonight while leading the Padres to a win to even up the series. Smith showed us a glimpse of why he was given a chance to pitch in the Padres rotation when he threw a perfect 1st inning, including two strikeouts, against the Rays. But that was the extent of his success. He was pulled in the 2nd inning when he gave up six runs on five hits and a couple of walks - all before even recording an out.
Smith will have to find away to quiet the bats of Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper. LaRoche, with his lifetime .322 average at Petco Park, continued his success last night as he homered for his second time in as many games and extended his hitting streak to 13 games. During that streak, he's hit .386 while collecting seven RBI. Bryce Harper's three career hits against Padres pitching were all home runs, including last night's solo shot in his first game since his (literal) run-in with the Dodger's scoreboard Monday night. Harper currently leads the Nationals in batting average (.298), home runs (11), RBI (22), and walks (20).
Gio Gonzalez hopes LaRoche, Harper, and the rest of his teammates will be able to give him a little more support than his last start. He was perfect through six innings, but gave up a couple of hits in the seventh before giving the ball over to the bullpen. Unfortunately, they couldn't hold the Nats' 1-0 lead as the Cubs rallied for two runs and the win over the final two innings. Luckily for Gonzalez, Washington pitching has dominated at Petco Park, posting a collective 1.02 ERA over a seven-game stretch in San Diego, during which the Nats have gone 6-1. That includes Gonzalez' only career outing against the Padres last April, a two-hit, six-strikeout performance that lasted six innings.
Hopefully San Diego can get back in the win column after suffering just their second loss in 11 home games last night. Carlos Quentin is a career 5-for-11 with a home run and four walks against Gonzalez. He is listed as probable for tonight's game after missing the series opener to celebrate the birth of his son, Clark. Chase Headley looks to continue his hot hitting at home. He's batting .370 over his last 13 games in San Diego and he's collected two hits in each of his last four at home.