Upton homers twice as Padres beat Nationals 6-5
WASHINGTON (AP) After struggling all season on the road, San Diego slugger Justin Upton looked perfectly at home in Nationals Park.
Upton homered twice - just his sixth and seventh round-trippers away from Petco Park this season - and the Padres held on to a 6-5 victory over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.
Matt Kemp added a two-run double and Tyson Ross (9-9) allowed four runs in 6 1-3 innings for the Padres, who evened the three-game series and will try for their fifth straight series victory in Thursday's finale.
''That's the goal from day one of the season to try and win each series and we've done a good job of it lately,'' said Upton, a player some expected to be traded at last month's non-waiver trade deadline.
Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth for his 36th save as San Diego moved within two games of the .500 mark (62-64).
Denard Span doubled twice for Washington in his second game back from the disabled list following back spasms. Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman each had two RBIs as the Nationals fell 6 1-2 games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets.
Even after Upton's 21st and 22nd home runs of the season, the outfielder is still only batting .213 on the road. But he's .276 over his career at Nationals Park, including two seasons spent with the rival Atlanta Braves.
''I've played a lot of games at this ballpark so that helps out,'' said Upton, who is hitting .306 with 15 homers at Petco. ''I'm not trying not to play well on the road, but it just hasn't been in the cards for me.''
His first homer, a lined shot into the Padres' bullpen, brought in the final two runs of a four-run third. His second - a towering, opposite-field drive over the out-of-town scoreboard - made it 6-2 in the top of the seventh.
The Nationals' rally in the bottom of the inning was halted by Yunel Escobar's grounder into a 5-4-3 double play on a 3-0 pitch, a decision his manager supported after the game.
''I can remember back to Jayson (Werth) hitting a 3-0 grand slam last year,'' manager Matt Williams said. ''I can remember a lot of success in those situations. So you have to take that with when it doesn't happen for you. But we can't change the way we play.''
Escobar said through a translator he ''just thought it was the right situation.''
Gio Gonzalez (9-7) failed to pitch more than five innings for a sixth time in seven starts, allowing five runs - four earned - over 4 2-3 innings. Escobar's throwing error in the third led to Gonzalez's unearned other run. He has a 10.22 ERA over his last three starts.
Ross struck out nine, including seven of the first 12 batters he faced, and allowed two walks and six hits, the last when Span chased the hurler with his second double to begin the seventh.
Shawn Kelley walked in a run and Marc Rzepczynski allowed Harper's two-run single before inducing Escobar's double-play.
''It was exciting,'' Ross said. ''The bullpen's been working hard all year and that was a big double play for us right there.''
Tyson Ross' brother Joe Ross will take the mound for the Nationals in Thursday's finale.
''You know it's going to be fun to watch that game tomorrow,'' Tyson Ross said. ''I hope my brother does well and I think he said it best when he said I hope he pitches well and we beat the bullpen.''
Padres: OF Wil Myers (left wrist tendinitis) hit in the batting cage Wednesday and could take live batting practice soon, said interim Padres manager Pat Murphy. ... RHP Bud Norris (both obliques) was given the day off again Wednesday. Murphy doesn't think the injury ''is anything long term.''
Nationals: OF Reed Johnson strained an oblique muscle while rehabbing from a calf injury that has kept him out most of the season, Williams said. ... INF Dan Uggla (back spasm) is unlikely to return from the disabled list until rosters expand ''unless there's a need,'' Williams said.
Padres RHP Andrew Cashner (5-12, 4.03) looks for his first consecutive wins of the season against Ross (4-5, 3.56).