WASHINGTON -- Searching for a spark plug to ignite their dormant offense, the Padres received a boost from perhaps the most unlikely of candidates.
Chase d'Arnaud, playing in just his fifth career game for San Diego, filled up the stat sheet in Sunday's 5-3 win over the Nationals, contributing the game-winning, two-run single in the fifth inning. Suiting up for his third different team this season, d'Arnaud also stole a base and scored a run to help the Padres finish a six-game East Coast road trip at .500.
"It's unbelievable to come off the bench like that, after a few days off, and show up like that," Hunter Renfroe, who went 2-for-4 with a run, said of d'Arnaud. "It's awesome."
Facing fearsome right-handers Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, the Padres had pushed just one run across home in their last two games in the nation's capital. In the third game of the series, the club broke through, tying a season high 14 hits. d'Arnaud was in the middle of the outburst, accounting for three runs in addition to saving another with some glorious glove work.
With a runner on second and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman ripped a one-hopper to d'Arnaud's right. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound shortstop lunged toward the outfield grass, snagging the ball out of the air and firing from his knees and across his body for the out at first.
"Probably game-changing, really," Padres manager Andy Green said of the play. "I didn't think he had a play at first base. I was hoping he would come up and fire to third. That kind of shows what I know."
Had the ball eluded d'Arnaud's reach, the run would have likely scored to cut the Padres' lead to one. But d'Arnaud's heroics played a major role in halting Washington's momentum.
"It changes the whole complexion of the game at that point in time," Green said. "We haven't had a ton of those unbelievable defensive plays."
d'Arnaud, who was claimed off waivers a week ago from the Red Sox, began the season with the Braves before Boston selected him from Atlanta off waivers on April 27. He was making just his second start for San Diego.
"He's got a lot of athleticism," Green added. "You see it on the baseball field: you see him stealing bases, you see how quickly he moves at shortstop, so we'll keep running him out there at different spots on the field and giving him some more opportunity."
Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C., who covered the Padres on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.