SAN DIEGO (AP) - After such a promising start to their longest homestand of the season, the San Diego Padres ended it with a thud.
The Padres dropped their third straight game to the Washington Nationals with a 2-0 loss on Sunday to finish the 11-game homestand at 5-6.
Danny Espinosa's go-ahead sacrifice fly in the ninth inning was the difference as the Nationals took three of four games in the series, including consecutive 2-1 decisions before Sunday.
``Any time you finish up a series with these one-run games and don't come out on it, you're disappointed,' said San Diego starting pitcher Tim Stauffer. ``We won the first game of the series but weren't able to build on it.'
The Padres, with the NL's worst home record at 14-26, scored just two runs in the final 28 innings against Washington.
``Overall, the starting pitching has been better, we've been playing better defense,' San Diego manager Bud Black said. ``Now, we just have to get the bats going again.'
The Padres were shut out for the 11th time this season, tops in the majors.
Espinosa got robbed of an extra-base hit when right fielder Chris Denorfia made a leaping catch against the short right-field porch. But pinch-runner Brian Bixler scored anyway.
The Nationals won the franchise's first series in San Diego since 2001. It was also Washington's first three-game road winning streak since April 2010.
With one out, the Nationals got a pinch-hit single from Matt Stairs off Heath Bell (2-3). Bixler replaced him at first and went to second on Alex Cora's single. Jayson Werth drew a full-count walk before Espinosa's sacrifice fly.
Laynce Nix followed with an RBI single to right, but Werth was thrown out trying to score by Denorfia.
Todd Coffey (2-0) pitched one inning and Drew Storen pitched the ninth for his 15th save in 16 changes to combine with Jordan Zimmermann on a five-hitter.
Zimmermann struck out 10 and gave up four hits over seven innings. He has allowed just two runs over 21 innings of his last three starts.
Stauffer allowed five hits in seven innings with four strikeouts, three walks and hit two batters. The right-hander was coming off a career-high eight-inning effort where he struck out a career-best eight batters in a 2-0 win over Colorado on Tuesday.
Two of the NL's worst offensive teams combined to score eight runs in the final three games of the four-game set.
Each team had good scoring chances, although the Nationals stranded nine runners. Washington was 13 for 91 with runners in scoring position over its season-longest 11-game road trip.
The Nationals loaded the bases with one out in the first inning but Stauffer got Wilson Ramos to bounce into a double play.
In the seventh, Washington had runners on second and third with one out. Stauffer got Werth to hit a line drive right at shortstop Jason Bartlett, then struck out Espinosa.
San Diego's biggest threat was in the second when they had bases loaded with one out on a walk and two singles. Zimmermann escaped damage with consecutive strikeouts against Alberto Gonzalez and Stauffer.
NOTES: The Nationals set a franchise record in the third inning by reaching 97 2-3 innings without an error. That broke the mark set by the Montreal Expos in August 1977. ... Werth was in the leadoff spot with the pitcher hitting in the No. 8 slot for the second straight game. ... Stauffer threw a career-high 111 pitches.
The Associated Press News Service
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