Posted May 13, 2012 on AP on Fox
A late-game collapse that included a dramatic ending cost the Washington Nationals their first road sweep of the season. A return to the nation's capital to face the punchless San Diego Padres might be just what they need to recover. The Nationals look to continue their impressive play at home with another strong effort from Ross Detwiler on the mound in the opener of this two-game set with the Padres on Monday night. Washington (21-13) appeared to be cruising to a fourth win in a row Sunday, but closer Henry Rodriguez served up a walkoff grand slam to Joey Votto - his third homer of the game - in a 9-6 loss at Cincinnati. Now, the Nationals will play their next seven games at home, where they are 12-4 behind a 2.28 ERA from the rotation. That success is likely to continue against league-worst San Diego (12-23), which is among the worst offensive teams in the majors, batting .221 while averaging 3.1 runs. Washington has won five of the last six meetings with the Padres, including two of three on the road April 24-26. The Nationals allowed five total runs in that series and their starters posted a 0.48 ERA. San Diego figures to have a difficult time generating offense against Detwiler (3-2, 2.10 ERA), who is 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA in three home starts. The left-hander turned in a quality start for the fourth straight outing in Wednesday's 4-2 loss at Pittsburgh, allowing three runs and a season-high seven hits in six innings. Jesus Flores will likely complete the battery with Detwiler after catcher Wilson Ramos suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during Saturday's win over the Reds. Ramos is expected to be out for the season. Flores collected two hits with an RBI in Ramos' place Sunday. He hasn't faced the Padres since hitting his only career grand slam in a 6-4 win at Petco Park on May 28, 2008. The Padres failed to score more than three runs for the eighth straight game, falling 3-2 at Philadelphia on Sunday for their sixth loss in nine contests. "I think we're going to get better," left fielder Jesus Guzman told the team's official website. Tim Stauffer probably hopes so as he's scheduled to make his 2012 debut after a strained right elbow forced him to start the season on the disabled list. The right-hander is well aware of the Padres' offensive shortcomings since he was backed by an average of 3.5 runs last year - among the lowest totals in the NL. Stauffer finished 9-12 with a 3.73 ERA and a career-high 128 strikeouts in his first full season in the rotation. He went 0-1 with a 1.72 ERA in three minor league starts. "He pitched so well for us last year, and it looked throughout the winter that he was on a nice path to a good year," manager Bud Black told the team's official website. "It was a detour for Tim. He feels good, his pitch count is where it needs to be, and physically and mentally he feels where he needs to be." Stauffer is 2-0 with a 0.87 ERA in his last three starts against the Nationals. He earned a 2-1 win in his only start in Washington last year, yielding one run and four hits in seven innings May 28.
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