Odor HR prevents disaster, Padres win series vs. Nats

May 25, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; San Diego Padres right fielder Rougned Odor (24) hits a double against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

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Mandatory Credit: Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals Park- Washington, D.C. 

The Padres and Nationals met on Thursday afternoon for the rubber match of the three-game set in D.C. After six innings; it looked like the Padres were going to cruise to a series win.

Then near-disaster ensued. Washington rallied for five runs in the bottom of the seventh, giving the Nationals a 6-5 lead. The Padres responded in the top of the ninth with a dramatic two-out, three-run homer by Rougned Odor.

Blake Snell got the start for the Padres. He was far from sharp but did earn 11 whiffs, more than twice the next closest pitcher on either side in this game. He finished with five innings, scattering four hits, four walks, and six strikeouts while allowing just one run.

The Nationals countered with Jake Irvin, who tossed four innings, allowing two runs.

Washington began the scoring in the bottom of the first with an RBI single by Joey Meneses. Trent Grisham responded for the Padres immediately, in the top of the second, with a go-ahead, two-run homer.

Ha-Seong Kim had to leave the game in the second inning after fouling a pitch flush off his knee. He struggled to leave under his power. Manager Bob Melvin indicated after the game that initial X-rays were negative. He expressed doubt in his ability to play in Friday’s series opener in New York but also doubts an IL-stint will be necessary.

In a season where the Padres have been comically bad at hitting with runners in scoring position, the fifth inning was a breath of fresh air. Fernando Tatis Jr. led off the inning with a single and then stole his fourth base of the season. Xander Bogaerts came up with runners on second and third after a walk to Juan Soto and a balk to advance the runners. The All-Star shortstop lined a single to score Tatis and extend the lead for San Diego.

Odor began his day of heroics with a two-out, two-run double to bring the lead to 5-1.

Then the seventh inning happened. Tim Hill began the bottom of the seventh on the mound for the Padres. Between Hill and Nick Martinez, the Padres allowed an inexplicable seven consecutive base hits with no outs that led to five runs for Washington. The rally ended when Alex Call tried to score on a wild pitch, but catcher Brett Sullivan went into a superhero pose to dive and tag him out, ending the inning.

That would prove huge.

The two teams combined for a scoreless eighth, with the Nationals, taking a 6-5 lead into the ninth. The Padres started the top of the ninth with singles by Jake Cronenworth and Soto. However, Bogaerts and Matt Carpenter then promptly struck out. It looked like the rally and the series was going to be wasted in devastating fashion.

Odor faced Hunter Harvey, with the Padres down to their final out. He turned on a 1-0 pitch for perhaps the most important swing to date for the 2023 Padres.

His three-run homer propelled the team to an 8-6 win after Josh Hader nailed down the save, tying him for the National League lead at 13. It earned the Padres their first series win in their last six tries. It’s not enough to dig themselves out of the hole the have dug over the first two months, but it certainly feels like it could be a turning point.

“We’ve been needing a couple swings like that,” Melvin said after the game. “He’s (Odor) not afraid of any situation.”

Their next task is a daunting one, with three games over the weekend at Yankee Stadium.

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