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Burch Smith took the hill for the second time in his major league career on Friday evening against the Nationals and had a better outing than his first time out. Still, Smith gave up 5 runs in 5 1/3 innings pitch, and even though the Padres came back to tie the game, the Nationals came back to win in extra innings, 6-5.

Smith started out in fine fashion, striking out five and keeping the Nationals off of the board, and meanwhile the Padres had put up two runs of their own. But the in the fourth inning, Burch got into trouble when Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman hit consecutive singles and Adam LaRoche hit a three run home run.

In the top of the sixth inning, Zimmerman homered and LaRoche followed with his second of the game and that was all for Smith. Burch issued five runs on six hits and a walk, while striking out eight.

But the outing was much better than his first in Tampa Bay, where he failed to record an out in the second inning before getting the hook. “I thought he came out firing,” manager Buddy Black said. “In the big picture I thought there was a lot to like tonight.”

Burch Smith has major league stuff, but the question is how much he still has to learn in order to apply it at the major league level. “It’s a learning experience for young pitchers when you’re facing major league hitters and he’s learning that it’s baptism under fire,” said Black.

The Padres trailed until the bottom of the ninth until they clawed and scratched and figured out a way to tie the score. But Huston Street came in for the top of the tenth inning and with two outs, Chad Tracy hit a home run into the Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Deck in right field, which didn’t exist last season before the fences were brought in.

The Padres couldn’t rally in their half, but there were some positives to take from the defeat. The Padres outhit the Nationals 11-7, and fought gamely to manage the tie to give the team a chance to win.

Such positives don’t show up in the standings, and perhaps such losses are frustrating for a team fighting to get to an even record. But the efforts of the individuals on the team might be something to build on, and that could come in handy as the season rolls on.


Clayton Richard might get one more rehab start, but then again he might not. He is eligible to come off of the disabled list on Monday, and his normal rotation spot would be Wednesday, and Buddy Black couldn’t commit either way. He’s been pitching well in bullpen sessions, simulated games, and his last start for AAA Tucson, so tomorrow when Carlos Quentin is reinstated from paternity leave, the corresponding move for Carlos on the 25-man roster will give us the biggest hint.

On Saturday, the Padres will be challenged when Jordan Zimmerman (7-1, 1.69) of the Nationals will battle the Padres Eric Stults (3-3, 4.57). Game time is at 5:40 PM PDST and free t-shirts will be given away to the first 25,000 fans that show up. Listen on 1090 AM or watch on Fox Sports San Diego if you don’t want to come to the game or you’re not into t-shirts. Even free t-shirts.

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