SAN DIEGO — With four swings in the span of seven pitches, the Washington Nationals put on a stunning power display that made major league history.
Howie Kendrick, Trea Turner, Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon hit consecutive home runs off former Washington reliever Craig Stammen with one out in the eighth inning to lift Stephen Strasburg to another victory against his hometown San Diego Padres, 5-2 on Sunday.
The Nationals became the first team in major league history to accomplish the feat twice, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The other time was July 27, 2017, against Milwaukee, when Brian Goodwin, Wilmer Difo, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman followed with long home runs.
Sunday’s outburst surprised everyone.
“It’s just one of those things. If you know how that happens, and how you can hit four in a row again, let me know, because we’ll write a book and we’ll be rich,” Eaton said. “That play is contagious, when Howie did it, then Trea comes up and does the same thing, and then for me. If you could say four home runs, I would never be in that mix anywhere, the first one, the last one, the middle, anything to keep it going. I was happy I was in there. It’s a pretty cool experience.”
With the score tied at 1, Kendrick was pinch-hitting for Strasburg (7-3) when he started the homer parade with a shot to left, his 11th. Turner followed with a drive to center, his fourth, and Eaton’s homer just cleared the wall in center, his sixth. Fans began booing then, and piled on after Rendon homered to right-center, his 12th.
Stammen (4-3) was the fourth of five Padres pitcher to throw on a “bullpen day.” He pitched with Washington from 2009-2015 and signed with San Diego prior to the 2017 season.
Kendrick’s homer went 421 feet, Turner’s 425, Eaton’s 402 and Rendon’s 391.
“Nobody expected four home runs in a row but we’ll take it,” Kendrick said. “We take anything we can get, and as long as we get a W, that’s what’s important.”
Turner said it was exciting.
“I think we were pretty fired up when Howie hit his just because that gave us the lead, and runs were hard to come by today. We were excited for that one, but to do it three more times after that was pretty cool.”
Said Rendon: “You don’t want to be the one that doesn’t hit the home run. It’s just crazy. Glad we were on this side of it and not on the other side of it.”
Manager Dave Martinez said he “liked the first one for sure, it put us ahead, then it was wow, wow, and wow. I was happy for Strasburg because he pitched an unbelievable game.”
Stammen said he thinks he became predictable and wondered if he was tipping pitches. He said there were a few pitches that he thought “weren’t that bad that they smoked.”
“It could be anything. There’s many different reasons. That’s never happened to me before,” he said. “I wish I could explain. It’s not fun to go through. I guess you can say it happens but I’m going to have to figure something out and get a little bit better.”
What was going through his head? “Stop giving up home runs,” he said. “This is what it feels like when you give up a home run: You want to dig a hole and crawl behind the mound and go in that hole and never return. Every time you give up a home run. So to give up four in a row, times that by four. It doesn’t feel good. But it’s your job to go out there and make pitches, go out there and execute your pitch, and that’s what I was trying to do and I didn’t do it today.”
Manager Andy Green said Stammen “always pitches on the edges. I’m assuming these aren’t on the edges today.”
Green said the only thing to do was “trust Craig. He’s earned that trust. ... you don’t get the opportunity to see seven pitches in advance. You see it in hindsight. Nobody gets their bullpen up for that. Nobody starts going to the bullpen with their eighth-inning guy on the mound after one home run and a home run off the next pitch.”
Strasburg held San Diego to one run and six hits in seven innings while striking out six. He improved to 8-2 in his career against the Padres and to 4-1 in five starts at Petco Park. He pitched at West Hills High in suburban Santee before pitching for late Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn at San Diego State.
Strasburg said the home run derby “was great to watch obviously, a lot of fun. You just try and keep the score as close as possible for the chance of that happening, and it did today.”
Luis Perdomo started for the Padres, pitching 3 1-3 innings of two-hit ball and allowing only an unearned run.
Rendon also drove in a run on a groundout in the first.
Padres: 3B Manny Machado got a day off for just the second time this season.
Nationals: RHP Anibal Sanchez (1-6, 4.19) is scheduled to start Monday night in the opener of a two-game series at the Chicago White Sox.