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Higashioka homers twice, including first career grand slam, in Padres' 8-5 win over Nationals

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Posted at 8:35 AM, Jun 27, 2024

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Kyle Higashioka homered twice, including his first career grand slam, and Dylan Cease pitched seven brilliant shutout innings for the San Diego Padres, who beat the Washington Nationals 8-5 Wednesday to sweep a contentious three-game series.

Higashioka hit a two-run homer off rookie DJ Herz in the second inning and then a grand slam against Tanner Rainey in the eighth that went into a suite on the third level of the four-story brick warehouse in the left-field corner and gave San Diego an 8-0 lead. It was the fourth grand slam of the season for the Padres and second in two nights. It was his fifth career-multihomer game. He has eight homers this year.

Higashioka was obtained in the deal that sent Juan Soto to the New York Yankees on Dec. 7. The catcher set his career-high with six RBIs and finished with three hits.

“That was cool,” Higashioka said of the slam. “I guess I didn't realize that was my first career. First in the big leagues. Just trying to square up the ball.”

Higashioka has gotten more playing time with starting catcher Luis Campusano going on the injured list with a bruised thumb.

San Diego took a one-hit shutout into the ninth before the Nationals scored five runs against two relievers, on four hits, a walk and a hit batter.

Jurickson Profar, at the center of a benches-clearing spat between the teams Tuesday night, added an RBI single to extend his hitting streak to 10 games and his on-base streak to 18 games. Profar, having a career year at 31 and on a $1 million contract is leading the balloting for NL outfielders for the All-Star Game.

Washington catcher Keibert Ruiz confronted Profar before his at-bat in the first inning Tuesday night, including touching him on the shoulder and poking at his chest. On-deck batter Manny Machado stepped in between them, placing a hand on Ruiz's shoulder, and the benches emptied.

Both teams were warned and MacKenzie Gore hit Profar on the foot with a 98-mph fastball. Gore was not ejected because the umpires felt it wasn't intentional. Padres manager Mike Shildt came onto the field and was immediately ejected. Machado homered on the first pitch he saw and Profar hit a grand slam in the sixth to highlight the 9-6 win.

The Nationals felt disrespected by Profar's celebration after his walk-off, two-run single in the 10th inning Monday night, when he went running along the track on the third-base side, waving at the fans. His route took him past the Nationals' dugout. The Nationals intentionally walked MLB hits leader Luis Arreaz to get to Profar, who was knocked down by a pitch from Hunter Harvey.

Cease (7-6) was brilliant through seven innings, when he allowed just a single while striking out nine. He held the Nationals hitless until Nick Senzel singled with two outs in the fifth. He walked just two, and both runners were erased.

“It felt great,” Cease said of his outing. “Really couldn't feel much better. I think fastball command was really good and then offspeed was very sharp.”

Yuki Matsui threw a perfect eighth. Tom Cosgrove allowed two hits in the ninth, including Lane Thomas' two-run double.

Higashioka's first homer was a line shot into the left-field corner with two outs in the second, with rookie Jackson Merrill aboard on a single.

“He hits the ball hard,” Cease said. “I think we all have a lot of faith in him and he keeps coming through.”

The Padres added on in the fourth on a wild pitch by Herz and Profar's single.

Herz (1-2) allowed four runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings, walked two and struck out one.

The Padres went 6-1 on the homestand against Milwaukee and Washington.