SAN DIEGO — Rookie reliever Daniel Camarena hit a stunning grand slam off Washington ace Max Scherzer and the San Diego Padres overcame an eight-run deficit, finally beating the Nationals 9-8 Thursday night on Trent Grisham’s RBI single in the ninth inning.
The Padres matched the biggest comeback in franchise history, helped by Fernando Tatis’ 28th home run and Grisham’s two-out hit.
But it was Camarena’s blow that really jolted the crowd at Petco Park.
Camarena, who went to San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic High, was called up earlier in the day for his second stint with the Padres. He replaced Yu Darvish starting the fourth inning and allowed Trea Turner’s second homer of the game, a two-run drive that gave the Nationals an 8-0 lead.
With the Padres’ bullpen taxed in recent days, manager Jayce Tingler had Camarena bat for himself against the struggling Scherzer with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth. The left-hander drove a 1-2 fastball into the right-field stands to send the crowd into a frenzy and pull the Padres to 8-6.
Camarena had struck out in his only previous big league at-bat. In the minors, he was 5 for 28 (.179) with no extra-base hits and zero RBIs.
Camarena became the second pitcher in history whose first hit was a grand slam. The first was Bill Duggleby of the Philadelphia Phillies on April 21, 1898.
The 28-year-old Camarena became the first relief pitcher to hit a grand slam since Pittsburgh’s Don Robinson on Sept. 12, 1985, and was the first Padres player, pitcher or position player, to have a grand slam for his first hit. The last player in the majors to do that was San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford on May 27, 2011, at Milwaukee.
Tommy Pham started the Padres ninth with a leadoff single against Sam Clay (0-2), advanced on consecutive groundouts and scored when Grisham singled to right.
Tatis, voted to start at shortstop in the All-Star Game, homered and stole a base, making him the youngest player in baseball history to have 20 homers and 20 stolen bases before the break. Tatis has 28 homers and 20 steals. His 28 homers are the most ever by a shortstop before the break.
The Nationals chased Darvish after three innings and gave Scherzer an 8-0 lead after four before the 36-year-old right-hander allowed seven runs in the fourth.
Pham singled to chase Scherzer and Tatis hit a bloop RBI single off Kyle Finnegan to pull within 8-7.
Tatis opened the fourth with a drive into the second deck in left field. With one out, Scherzer hit Manny Machado with a pitch, allowed a single to Grisham and hit Eric Hosmer with a pitch to load the bases. Wil Myers worked a walk to bring in a run before Scherzer struck out Victor Caratini. Camarena then connected.
The Padres have five grand slams this season. Their 12 slams since the start of the 2020 season are the most of any team in baseball. The Padres popularized “Slam Diego” last year when they became the first team in history to have four slams in as many games and five in six games.
The Padres tied it at 8 on Pham’s two-out double in the sixth.
Turner homered in the first and singled in the third, and scored twice against Darvish. Yan Gomes had a two-run single in the first. The Nationals added on in the third when Josh Bell had an RBI double, Starlin Castro a sacrifice fly and Josh Harrison an RBI single.
All-Star Mark Melancon (2-1) pitched the ninth for the win.
Scherzer allowed seven runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings, struck out seven and walked one.
Darvish allowed six runs and eight hits in three innings, struck out two and walked none.
Nationals: Placed RHP Joe Ross on the 10-day injured list with right elbow inflammation, retroactive to Wednesday, and recalled RHP Ryne Harper.
Padres: Caratini was hit by a foul ball on the right hand in the fifth inning. He finished the inning but was then replaced by Webster Rivas.
Nationals: RHP Paolo Espino (2-2, 2.48 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday night in the opener of a three-game series at San Francisco. The Giants will counter with RHP Logan Webb (4-3, 3.86).
Padres: Haven’t named a starter for opener of three-game series against Colorado. It normally would be LHP Blake Snell’s turn but Tingler said Snell is still trying to regain strength after a recent bout of food poisoning. Snell pitched four innings in a win at Philadelphia on Sunday. The Rockies are scheduled to start LHP Kyle Freeland (1-2, 5.50).
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