Padres third baseman Jorge Cantu reacts after he slid home to score what was to be the winning run on a single by Ryan Ludwick during the ninth inning of a baseball game May 29, 2011 in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ryan Ludwick thought Ian Desmond made a great play. Desmond didn't think so at all.
The not-so-great play was a grounder Ludwick hit up the middle that scored the winning run for the San Diego Padres as the Washington Nationals lost their ninth of 11 games, 5-4 to San Diego.
With Drew Storen (4-2) on the mound, Jorge Cantu doubled with one out. After Jason Bartlett grounded to third, Ludwick's grounder hit off Desmond's glove, and his throw home was not in time to beat Cantu.
"I knew it was in. I didn't think he was going to get to it. I thought he did a great job getting a glove on it," Ludwick said.
Desmond respectfully disagreed.
"I don't really know why it was great. The guy scored — and we lost the game. It wasn't very great to me," Desmond said.
"This isn't going to cut it."
The Nationals scored a franchise-record 17 runs against Baltimore on May 20, and since then they've gone 1-7 and scored more than four runs just once. Their batting average is a horrifying .229 — second-worst in baseball — and they dropped two of three to the only team with a worse average — .227.
"It's unbelievable. We have to do something different," Desmond said.
"There's no other word to say besides frustrating. I don't know what's going on. We've got to find what's in ourselves. We've got to do something."
Washington was just 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
"We had some good luck and we just couldn't take advantage of it," manager Jim Riggleman said.
It was the first time San Diego scored more than three runs in 11 games.
Luke Gregerson (2-1), the third Padres pitcher, pitched two scoreless innings for the win. Heath Bell worked the ninth for his 12th save in 13 chances.
The first two games of the series featured little offense. Both games ended 2-1, with each team winning one. On Sunday, the teams, which combined for 19 hits in the first two games, had 21.
"I trust our hitters. It's not like they're having bad at-bats," Storen said.
Washington was led by Jayson Werth with three hits. Only Michael Morse, who had two hits — including the game-ending homer on Friday — had multiple hits for the Nationals in any of the weekend's games.
"It's not luck. We're not unlucky. We've got runners in scoring position, and we can't score," Desmond said.
"It starts with me. I left runners in scoring position. I've got to do something different. We all have to do something different."
In the first, Washington leadoff batter Roger Bernadina reached on an error by Hawpe at first. He stole second and advanced to third on Desmond's bunt single. Werth singled to right to score Bernadina and Desmond scored on Laynce Nix's sacrifice fly.
Yunesky Maya, recalled earlier Sunday by the Nationals, allowed just one hit in his first three innings.
In the fourth,the Padres scored when Bartlett led off with a double and scored on Ludwick's single.
In the fifth, they scored three runs. Logan Forsythe led off with a single, pitcher Moseley bunted him to second, and with two out, Bartlett and Ludwick walked to load the bases. Hawpe singled to score Forsythe and Bartlett. After Slaten replaced Maya, Ludwick scored on Headley's double.
Maya who is winless in six career starts, pitched 4 2-3 innings, allowing four runs and six hits. He walked two and struck out three.
The Nationals made it 4-3 in the fifth on Rick Ankiel's single off Moseley and Bernadina's RBI double.
Moseley pitched five innings, allowing three runs — two earned. He walked one and struck out one.
In the sixth, Washington tied the score at 4 on Morse's fielders choice that scored Werth.
NOTES: Washington 3B Jerry Hairston was suspended one game and fined for "aggressive actions" toward umpire Ed Hickox on Friday night. Hairston, who was celebrating his 35th birthday on Sunday, is appealing the suspension. ... Maya was the sixth starting pitcher used by the Nationals this season. The Nationals are the last major league team to need a sixth starter.