SAN DIEGO -- A home run by Michael Morse proved to be the difference as the Nationals defeated the Padres, 2-1, at PETCO Park on Friday night.
The game was scoreless when the Nationals took the lead for good in the top of the second inning against right-hander Mat Latos.
Laynce Nix led off the inning with a single to center field. Morse followed and hit a 1-2 pitch into the second deck in left field for a two-run homer. It was Morse's 10th home run of the season.
"It was supposed to be a fastball inside, and that's exactly what it was -- a fastball inside," Latos said. "We went two fastballs inside to him, kind of surprised him, went slider, missed. And then we doubled up again, and that's just not the thing to do. Obviously, after I threw that one fastball inside to him, I shouldn't have gone back in there again, that should have been a fastball down and away or a slider down and away."
Even more impressive was that it was Morse's third home run in less than two weeks against the opposing team's top pitchers. Besides Latos, Morse hit one against Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay and Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum.
"I'm just going up there having good at-bats," Morse said. "It doesn't matter who it is on the mound. I'm going up there, going to try to battle and have a good quality at-bat. Help the team win as much as I can."
Right-hander Jason Marquis was the beneficiary of the Morse homer, winning his seventh game of the season.
During the first four innings of the game, Marquis was trying to do something that no other member of the Nationals has ever done: Pitch a no-hitter. Through four innings, Marquis' only blemish was a walk to Anthony Rizzo in the second inning.
However, Marquis allowed his first hit in the fifth inning, a double by Ryan Ludwick. The Padres scored their only run of the game an inning later. With the bases loaded, Ludwick walked to force home Chris Denorfia.
After getting Will Venable to ground out to start the sixth, Marquis allowed a double to Denorfia and a single to Jason Bartlett. After Brad Hawpe walk to load the bases, Ludwick came to the plate and drew a walk to force home Denorfia.
However, Marquis managed to strike out Anthony Rizzo and induce Jorge Cantu to ground out to end the inning. Marquis said he didn't run out of gas in the sixth inning and felt he could have pitched another frame.
"He was really sharp and got tested in the sixth inning," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "That was tough. Baserunners all over the place. [He threw] a lot of pitches. It was a very stressful inning that he was going through. To come out of that with one run, that's good veteran pitching right there."
Although Marquis impressed the skipper, Riggleman then decided to go to his top relievers for the final three innings. Tyler Clippard dominated San Diego for two innings, while striking out three batters. Drew Storen then saved his 13th game of the season to secure the victory.
"Next inning, if anybody gets on, I have to go to Clippard," Riggleman said about the seventh. "[I decided to] let Clip start his own inning. That's where we have been night after night. ... It gives us the best chance for success. It doesn't always work, but tonight, it did."
With the victory, the Nationals improved their record to 28-36.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.