SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Jody Gerut had a great scouting report and some superb motivation when he stepped up to the plate against Charlie Manning with one out and two runners on in the eighth inning of a tie game.
Anticipating a slider, Gerut drove a 1-2 pitch from Manning into the seats down the right-field line for a three-run homer that lifted the San Diego Padres to a 5-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Thursday.Gerut's second homer of the season came three batters after Washington's Ryan Langerhans made a spectacular leaping catch to rob Kevin Kouzmanoff of a home run leading off the inning. Langerhans got his glove above the wall in left field to snag Kouzmanoff's drive.After Khalil Greene and Michael Barrett hit singles off Saul Rivera (3-3), Manning came on and allowed Gerut's homer on a 1-2 pitch.Besides looking for a slider, Gerut was looking to end the game in nine innings. Although Gerut had been sent down to Triple-A Portland during the season's first week, he had heard plenty about the Padres' 2-1 loss to Colorado in 22 innings on April 17-18. Plus, it took the Padres 18 innings to beat Cincinnati on Sunday."I wasn't here for the 22-inning game, but man, you get these images like, 'Man, what if we're here another two hours?'" Gerut said. "In the end you're just glad it didn't have to be that way."Certainly we've played a lot of close games, a lot of low-scoring games, and we're happy for the offense," he said.Gerut said the Padres were only momentarily deflated after Langerhans robbed Kouzmanoff. Gerut said reliever Heath Bell immediately fired up the players in the dugout."I said, 'We had them on their heels, let's push them over. Keep pushing,'" said Bell, who got both Padres wins in the series. "That's the way I felt. I mean, Kouz leading off, almost a home run, they were probably thinking, 'Oh, great.' So, you know, they were on their heels."Gerut came in as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning, taking over for left fielder Edgar Gonzalez. Hitting coach Wally Joyner told the left-handed hitter to watch for a slider from the lefty Manning."With guys in scoring position there, typically a reliever, left on left, is going to rely on his slider more than his fastball," Gerut said. "Sometimes they'll try to sneak it by you, too, so you have to be ready for that."You're looking for that base hit, really, to break the game open from the tie. Not at all looking to drive it, just looking to put it play and stay on it," he said.Manning took the loss Tuesday night after allowing a go-ahead solo homer to Adrian Gonzalez, who's also a lefty."I'm not doing my job," Manning said. "I've got to get these guys out and I'm not."Manning "just hung that slider middle in," manager Manny Acta said. "He made a mistake and paid for it.""He's here so we can take a look at him to see if he can get lefties out," the manager added. "That's what we are doing."The Padres took two of three in the matchup of last-place teams.Bell (2-3) pitched the eighth inning for the win.Trevor Hoffman pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save in 13 chances, extending his big-league career record to 535. Hoffman became the 19th pitcher in big-league history to appear in 900 games.Wil Ledezma, making his third start in place of Jake Peavy, left with a 2-1 lead after five innings.The Nationals tied it against Cla Meredith in the seventh on Langerhans' two-out, pinch-hit RBI single. Langerhans remained in the game in left field.Ledezma went five innings, matching his career high with seven strikeouts while holding Washington to one run and two hits. He walked one.In his previous two starts, Ledezma had lasted only four innings against St. Louis on May 19 and three innings against Cincinnati on Saturday.Peavy, the reigning NL Cy Young winner, went on the disabled list on May 20, retroactive to May 15, with a swollen right elbow.After Washington went ahead 1-0 on Dukes' sacrifice fly in the fourth, the Padres took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning on a bases-loaded single by Edgar Gonzalez, Adrian's older brother, off rookie John Lannan. Gonzalez drove in his brother, aboard on a leadoff walk, and Kouzmanoff, who was hit by a pitch.
Padres right-hander Chris Young, whose nose was broken by a line drive by Albert Pujols on May 21, was scheduled to see a doctor on Thursday afternoon. Manager Bud Black said the main concern is with a small fracture in Young's skull. Black also said Young will probably need surgery to straighten his septum. ... Ledezma previously struck out seven on May 18, 2005, against Tampa Bay while with Detroit. ... The Padres tied a franchise record with 15 home runs in the homestand, which lasted 10 games. They had 15 homers in a homestand twice before, both lasting 11 games.