SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jeimer Candelario and Lane Thomas homered, Josiah Gray pitched into the sixth inning and the Washington Nationals beat the San Diego Padres 2-0 on Saturday night.
“Josiah gave us the five innings-plus that we needed," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "The story tonight to me is Josiah, he battled through.”
In the first inning, Candelario homered to right center. Thomas, who had three hits, connected in the third.
“We want to control the game from the first inning to the ninth inning, that is what we did today,” Candelario said. “We set the tone, we scored early and we go from there.”
Washington had lost nine of its previous 11 games, including a 13-3 drubbing of the Padres on Friday night.
Gray (5-6) struck out six. He worked his way unscathed out of a threat with two runners on in the first inning and kept the hitters subdued deep into the third time through the lineup.
“It was very cutter heavy with their lefties just getting off the barrel, getting weaker contact and then to the righties it was a steady mix of slider, sinker,” Gray said about his mix of pitches. “Using my arsenal the best I could and having them expand the zone.”
Mason Thompson threw 1 2/3 innings without giving up a hit, Kyle Finnegan pitched an inning and Hunter Harvey worked the ninth for his fifth save.
“The big thing is they were attacking the strike zone,” Martinez said. “Mason comes in and shuts the door on a big inning right there and then Finnegan and Harvey finish it off with great stuff.”
The Padres promoted knuckleballer Matt Waldron (0-1) for a spot start in his major league debut. He lasted 4 2/3 innings, giving up two runs and four hits.
“It was surreal, and it was amazing,” Waldron said about his experience in his first game in the majors. “All in all, it was pretty nerve-racking. But when you get out there, it's the same game.”
Tim Hill, Nick Martinez and Steven Wilson each pitched at least one full inning to keep the Padres close in the late innings. Reliever Luis Garcia inherited runners at first and second with one out in the ninth, but was able to escape without allowing a run.
Nationals: RHP Paolo Espino was recalled from Triple-A Rochester. Espino joins the Nationals for the first time this season. … RHP Chad Kuhl was designated for assignment. He appeared in 16 games, including five starts, prior to an early season injury. Kuhl posted an 8.45 ERA over 38-1/3 innings.
RHP Michael Wacha (shoulder fatigue) skipped his scheduled turn in the rotation and Walden was promoted in his place. San Diego manager Bob Melvin said he anticipates Wacha will avoid a stint on the IL and should return for his next turn in the rotation. … Waldron is the first knuckleballer in the majors since Baltimore’s Mickey Jannis in 2021. … LHP Ray Kerr was optioned to Triple-A El Paso. Kerr had a 6.00 ERA in six appearances this season.
Nationals LHP MacKenzie Gore (3-6, 4.02) was set to start Sunday against RHP Seth Lugo (3-3, 3.86).