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Nationals’ MacKenzie Gore keeps his emotions — and Padres — in check

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SAN DIEGO — Mackenzie Gore stared at Juan Soto, who glared back as he stood in the batter’s box. They nodded and exchanged silly jokes. Gore was playing in a ballpark where he imagined he’d be pitching for a long time, but he didn’t budge from Soto or the moment. And in the fifth inning, he proved it by striking out Soto and leaving runners in the corner.

With the game tied until the sixth inning on Sunday, Gore’s ninth strikeout of the game now looms large. And the punchout was more important as the Nationals scored seven in the next two innings en route to an 8–3 win. Washington took its first series win since late May.

Gore said he enjoyed his interactions with Soto, saying he was “pretty competitive on the outside.” “It was cool. The bullpen was great and we scored a lot.”

Just over a month ago, Gore took on the Padres and felt a little better. He threw a 99 mph dart and passed Padres hitters, but his command was also erratic. He pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing 3 runs, 2 home runs, and 4 walks.

So when Gore threw the first pitch to Padres leadoff hitter Kim Hae-sun, it worked to his advantage when he hit the strike with a 95.3 mph straightball down the middle. He wasn’t throwing with all his might, but he didn’t have to throw effectively.

“From the first pitch, I said, ‘It’s okay, it’s okay,'” manager Dave Martinez said. “He just controlled his emotions. He stayed at each plate. He went to the next pitch. He threw the ball well.”

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It showed when he again struck out Kim with a four-seam fastball. Then he did the same with Fernando Tatis Jr. He hit Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts with the same pitch in the second inning. Soto and Jake Cronenworth were the only hitters who didn’t strike out on a fastball in the first two innings, but instead Gore hit them with a slider.

Gore set a team record by striking out six straight to open the game. Nelson Cruz singled to put the game ahead of the game, but the play was initially swayed twice by Jaymer Candelario, who gave Gore a 1–0 lead on his second first-inning homer of the game. determined to be an error. But all was forgotten when Austin Nola hit a 6-4-3 double play two pitches later.

Gore may have tapped into his emotions, but he remained expressive as the outing progressed. In the fourth, he allowed doubles to Machado and Bogaerts, putting runners in the corner. However, he hit a 95.6 mph fastball in the final out of the inning, smashing out Cronenworth and screaming into the ground before walking off the mound.

Gore struggled with efficiency, throwing 76 pitches in the first four innings, throwing 27 pitches in four of them. Then Gore realized he had a runner in the corner and had two outs in the fifth inning. Gore hampered Tatis, but Tatis hit the ball into right field for a single. After allowing the game to tie, Gore slammed his hand on the pad under the third base line. But when Gore struck out Soto for the third time in the game, he joined Hyun-jin Ryu and Max Freed, becoming the only pitchers to accomplish the feat.

In the sixth inning, the Nationals (30-47) hit three straight singles to take control of the game. Joey Meneses hit a nakamae triple to give Washington a 2-1 lead, and Stone Garrett followed with a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 3-1. The Padres (37-41) loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning after Mason Thompson walked three hitters, but Joe La Sorsa was called up last week following an injury to Carl Edwards Jr. struck out Gary Sanchez with a full count. Escape from traffic jams.

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Washington took advantage of the missed opportunity to take the game first. Derek Hill reached when Padres pitcher Tim Hill hit a ground ball and misfired at first base. After C.J. Abrams was hit by a pitch, Lane Thomas hit a midfield RBI to give Washington an insurance policy before Tim Hill made a second throw mistake and Luis Garcia reached to put the bases loaded. . Candelario and Meneses hit back-to-back two-run doubles, and the Nationals hit five runs for their fifth run to take an 8-1 lead. 446 with runners in scoring position, Meneses hit in scoring position.

The Nationals have struggled to support their starting pitchers lately. Sunday’s performance was more than enough to give Gore the win, tying the record for most matches in a game this month. Then the Nationals packed up for Seattle and overcame a series delay to win two straight away games.

“It’s a great feeling, coming out of a bit of a struggle, especially in games where we didn’t win much,” Meneses said. “To come here and win two out of three games against a good team gives us a little more confidence.”

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