SAN DIEGO (AP) — Victor Robles scored the go-ahead run on Josh Hader’s wild two-base throwing error and rookie Alex Call followed with his first career home run, a two-run shot, as the Washington Nationals stunned the San Diego Padres 6-3 on Friday night.
It was the second straight rough outing for Hader (2-5), the major league leader in saves who has struggled since being obtained from Milwaukee on Aug. 1. Hader was booed as he walked off the field after being pulled by manager Bob Melvin.
Hader started the ninth in a 3-3 game and issued a leadoff walk to Robles, drawing boos for a second straight night. Hader fielded Lane Thomas’ tapper between the mound and the third base line and threw wildly past first baseman Josh Bell, with Thomas given a single. The ball caromed off the low wall and into right field, where Juan Soto lunged wildly for it but missed. That allowed Robles to come all the way around and score the go-ahead run.
Call then drove a two-run shot into the left field seats. He made his big league debut on July 11.
“I was like, ‘Heck yeah,” Call said about watching that play unfold from the on-deck circle. “As soon as Soto dove for the ball and missed it, or it got by him, I was like, ’Oh my gosh, we’re going to score right here.’ That was huge because we were winning. Laner was on third so I was like, ‘OK, time to drive this guy in.’
“It was kind of a circus, but a good circus in our favor.”
He homered after fouling on a bunt attempt to fall behind 0-2.
“It felt so good just rounding the bases. I mean, the ninth inning off Josh Hader, definitely something you’ll remember for the rest of your life,” Call said. “I enjoyed every step around the bases, that’s for sure.”
Melvin said Hader’s situation “has to resolve itself one way or the other at this point. New team, got off to a little bit of a slow start. Gave him a clean inning today, two days in a row, trying to get him some work and get him through it. It certainly didn’t happen for him today but we’ll see where it goes.”
This is the second series between the teams since the Nationals, who have the worst record in the majors, sent Soto and Bell to San Diego in exchange for a package of major leaguers and prospects on Aug. 2. The Padres, trying to hold onto the third wild-card spot in the NL, took two of three in Washington last weekend and the Nationals won the opener of this series 3-1 on Thursday night.
“They’re playing well,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “You get good pitching, you get good defense, the hitting will come and go, and right now we’re getting opportunities to score some runs. They’re battling and we’re actually finishing games. The last couple of days have been really good. We’re playing a lot better.”
Erasmo Ramirez (4-1) pitched a perfect eighth for the win and Kyle Finnegan worked the ninth for his seventh save.
The Padres chased Washington starter Paolo Espino with consecutive one-out walks in the fifth and Manny Machado greeted reliever Victor Arano with a two-run double to the gap in right-center to tie the game at 3. Machado took third on a wild pitch but was stranded when Brandon Drury and Jake Cronenworth struck out.
The Nationals had taken a 3-1 lead on rookie C.J. Abrams’ two-run single with two outs in the fourth off Blake Snell and Keibert Ruiz’s RBI single with two outs in the fifth.
San Diego took a 1-0 lead in the second when Trent Grisham singled in Drury.
Snell was pitching not quite 24 hours after he was involved in a minor traffic collision. Snell was sitting in his car on the side of Interstate 5 during a traffic stop when it was hit by another car. Melvin said Snell was cleared by the medical staff earlier Friday.
Snell allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings, struck out seven and walked two.
Espino gave up three runs and three hits, struck out four and walked four.
The slumping Bell wasn’t in the starting lineup against his former team. He pinch-hit for Wil Myers in the sixth but his struggles continued as he popped up to shortstop. Bell remained in the game at first base. He is in a 1 for 32 slump over his last eight games.
Melvin called it “just a little bit of a mental blow.” Bell took batting practice and worked on some things “without the pressure of being the new guy here and so forth,” Melvin added. “He’s going to come around. He is a big piece for us. He will be. Love him in the middle of the order the way he splits things up, especially as a switch-hitter.”
Nationals RHP Josiah Gray (7-8, 4.79 ERA) and Padres RHP Joe Musgrove (8-6, 2.98) are scheduled to start Saturday night.
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