by Dave Nichols and Anthony Amobi, Staff Writer

The San Diego Padres took two out of three from the Washington Nationals this weekend as the Nats won the opener Friday night behind John Lannan, but dropped back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday, scoring a total of four runs in the two games.

The Nationals left the west coast with a 25-26 record, tied for last place in the NL East, four games behind the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies.

Additionally, the Stephen Strasburg watch continued on Saturday, as he pitched against the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees.  The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft lost for the second time at the professional level, as he gave up three runs on six hits in a little more than five innings of work.

The Syracuse Chiefs lost the game 3-2.

Aside from the start, the loss for Strasburg was notable because he served up his first minor league home run to Yankee Rene Rivera, who smoked a Strasburg fastball over the right-center field wall. Bill Ladson reports that Strasburg will start on June 3rd against Buffalo, and then should make his major league debut at Nationals Park sometime in the June 8-10 series against the Pittsburgh Pirates – if all goes to plan.

FRIDAY:  John Lannan threw a gem, and Josh Willingham and Ian Desmond both homered to beat the Padres 5-3.

Lannan (W, 2-2, 5.01) went seven innings and surrendered just two runs (one earned) on seven hits and no walks, striking out just one.  He threw 56 of 88 pitches for strikes, and got 12 ground ball outs opposed to seven fly balls.

Manager Jim Riggleman went out to check on Lannan with two outs in the seventh inning, and the lanky lefthander convinced his manager to let him finish the inning.

Tyler Clippard pitched a perfect eighth, and Matt Capps got his 17th save, despite giving up a run in the ninth.

Willingham hit a three-run shot (10) in the fourth against San Diego starter Clayton Richard (L, 4-3, 3.00), Desmond added a solo shot (4) in the seventh, and dropped a bunt to score Adam Kennedy from third in the eighth inning for an insurance run.

The game was played under protest because the Padres listed Adam Russell, a reliever that had been sent to the minors earlier in the day, as the starting pitcher on the official scorecard.  The protest was dropped after the Nats victory.

SATURDAY:  After the win Friday night, the Nationals could not follow it up with another on Saturday and lost to the San Diego Padres, 4-2.

Recalled from the minors earlier in the day to take Scott Olsen's vacated spot in the rotation, pitcher J.D. Martin pitched well enough to have a better result.  However, a huge error in the first inning allowed the Padres to score three times.

With two outs in the frame, and no one on, Adam Kennedy – who was at second base – could not field a groundball from Adrian Gonzalez and he got on first. After the errant play, Chase Headley singled and then Nick Hundley gave San Diego a 3-0 lead with a three-run homer to left.

All three runs were unearned due to the two-out error.

Martin (0-1) took the loss in his first major league start in 2010. He went six innings, allowing four runs (one earned) and striking out five, tying his season--and major league--high .

Meanwhile, Martin’s counterpart on the mound for San Diego, Matt Latos (5-3) earned the win. He went six innings and held Washington to two runs on four hits. He also struck out eight batters.

Closer Heath Bell earned his 14th save of the season by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

The Nationals only scoring on the day came in the second inning. Adam Kennedy did his best to reconcile for his first inning with an RBI-single to plate Adam Dunn. Moments later, Wil Nieves drove in Josh Willingham with an RBI-groundout.

With a 3-2 lead, the Padres added an insurance run in the fourth inning as Chris Denorfia drove in Hundley – who had tripled – with an RBI groundout.

Hundley’s triple was perhaps aided by Nationals’ outfielder Nyjer Morgan’s attempt to catch the ball. Morgan--who has struggled defensively for the last two weeks--mistimed his jump and allowed the ball to sail over him and bounce to the outfield wall.

The loss for Washington dropped them once again to the .500 mark at 25-25.

At this point, fans have every right to be concerned about Morgan’s fielding in center (he had two critical misplays in the last home stand), as well as his struggles at the plate.  As Washington’s leadoff hitter, his average is down .243 and he’s mustering a .318 on-base percentage.

Morgan should be setting the table for Washington’s offense, but right now isn’t. His play is hurting the team, and Riggleman has indicated he will bat Morgan in the second slot for a while in an effort to get his center fielder back on track with the bat.

Morgan is one of the most energizing players on the Nationals squad – when he's on. They’ll need Morgan to figure out why he’s been so lackluster as of later and get on track.

SUNDAY:  Adam Kennedy made another defensive miscue, and Nick Hundley once again inflicted some damage with a walk-off single in the 11th inning to plate in the winning run, as the Padres defeated the Nats 3-2.

With the game deadlocked at two, Washington reliever Sean Burnett came into the game during the bottom of the 11th inning and got two quick outs before running into trouble. San Diego’s Lance Zawadzki got on base with an infield single and then advanced on a throwing error by Adam Kennedy as his throw sailed into the Padres’ dugout.

Moments later, the Padres summoned pitch hitter Hundley to bat for the pitcher, and in turn, Washington brought closer Matt Capps to the mound.

Capps could not hold off the Padres and Hundley ripped the fifth pitch (on a 2-2 count) during the at-bat to left field and plated Zawadzki for the winning run.

In the end, Burnett was charged with the loss (0-3), while Luke Gregerson (1-1) pitched two shutout innings in relief for the win.

While Washington’s offense sputtered at times during the game, they got a monster game from third baseman Ryan Zimmerman who launched two solo homers (his ninth and tenth in ’10) – which included the 100th of his career. He would hit his first long ball off San Diego starting pitcher John Garland in the first inning to right field and another in the sixth to left.

Livan Hernandez, who started on the mound for the Nationals, once again had a solid outing giving up two runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings of work.

San Diego took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning as Yorvit Torrealba drove in Adrian Gonzalez with an RBI groundout and Tony Gwynn had an RBI-single.

Washington starts a four-game series against the last-place Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park with a 2:05 game on Memorial Day.  Luis Atilano (4-1) faces Astros' ace Roy Oswalt (3-6).