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Kotsay ropes a go-ahead double in the eighth

SAN DIEGO -- This time, the Padres' Mark Kotsay won his battle against Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard.

Kotsay delivered a two-run, pinch-hit double off Clippard in the eighth inning, and the Padres held on for a 2-1 victory Thursday night at Petco Park to avoid a three-game sweep by the Nationals.

Two nights earlier, Kotsay had battled during a 12-pitch at-bat against Clippard, finally popping out in a 3-1 loss.

On Thursday, Kotsay came up to bat with runners on first and second with one out after Orlando Hudson drew a walk and Cameron Maybin reached on a bunt single. Kotsay said he knew to look for a fastball up from Clippard, and he doubled on a 2-1 fastball.

"Two nights ago, I missed a few pitches that I felt I could have put in play," Kotsay said. "So, even though it was a great at-bat from the perspective I battled 12 pitches, I was still disappointed with the result, because I felt I should have done my job early in the count.

"Tonight, I got ahead in the count and just used the other night, thinking, I didn't hit his fastball. I fouled a lot of them off."

Clippard (1-2) was charged with a blown save after allowing the two runs. He allowed two hits, struck out two and walked two in an inning.

"I was sticking to my game plan, but I really didn't," Clippard said. "I threw [Kotsay] four straight fastballs and got behind him. It was just poorly executed, and the pitch selection wasn't good either. It's kind of frustrating on my part."

Kotsay is batting .312 (43-for-138) as a pinch-hitter in his career.

"Tonight, we were one hit away all game," he said. "Sometimes the ball rolls that way and you're one hit away from everybody just going, 'Ohhh,' and that hit came in the eighth, so everybody relaxed a little bit. It was good to feel and good to see."

The victory snapped the 6-14 Padres' losing streak at two, and they travel to San Francisco to play the Giants for three games.

After failing to score after loading the bases twice, in the fourth and seventh innings, the Padres got the big hit they needed against the Nationals (14-5), who lead the National League East.

The Padres were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base. They outhit the Nationals, 8-4.

Nationals starter Edwin Jackson threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out six and allowing six hits and three walks (one intentional).

"We talked about what a difference one hit will make in a lot of our games, and there you saw it tonight," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We've had some opportunities in previous games, and we just haven't got that hit."

Kotsay's winning hit backed up starting pitcher Edinson Volquez's strongest outing of the season. The right-hander allowed a run in seven innings, striking out seven and walking one, a season low. Jayson Werth hit a home run off Volquez to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead in the seventh.

"My performance was better today," Volquez said. "I kept it in my mind to go deeper in the game, and it worked. I'm glad to see these guys come back and win the game."

Walks had been an issue for Volquez. He had issued 15 free passes in 23 innings entering the game.

"In a nutshell, that's going to be the key to his season," Black said. "He's got three pitches that are Major League above-average. He's got velocity. He's got a devastating change. He's got a nice curveball. If he can limit the walks, that means he limits baserunners, because I don't think he's going to get hit around."

Andrew Cashner (1-1) threw a scoreless eighth to pick up the victory. Closer Huston Street allowed a hit and struck out one in the ninth to earn his second save.

The Padres' Yonder Alonso hit two doubles, giving him four in two games. Hudson tripled, extending his hitting streak to nine games.

Now the Padres will try to win consecutive games for just the second time this season as they open a three-game series against the Giants on Friday.

"The clubhouse is a nice spot right now," Black said. Comments