SAN DIEGO — Washington Nationals pitcher Edwin Jackson didn’t have a surfboard, just his reliable right arm, in beating the San Diego Padres 2-1 on Thursday.
“You just try to ride the wave,” Jackson said.
With his mechanics sound and a new approach built around being more aggressive, Jackson sank the Padres.
“It’s about trusting yourself in what you have,” he said. “And we have a great defense.”
Ryan Zimmerman’s eighth-inning home run backed Jackson’s seven strong innings as Washington snapped San Diego’s three-game winning streak.
Zimmerman’s 29th home run, an opposite-field blast, came off Kirby Yates’ 94 mph fastball as the reliever tried to work the top of the strike zone.
“It was supposed to be elevated, and it came back down,” Zimmerman said. “He’s a guy with a really good fastball. It kind of leaked down a little bit, and I finally stayed inside of a pitch and didn’t try to pull it.”
Jackson (4-2) was stellar as he beat the Padres for the first time after dropping six previous decisions. Jackson, who counts San Diego among the 11 teams he has pitched for, surrendered a run, eight hits and a walk. He struck out four in his 83-pitch effort.
“He was dealing,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said. “He was very efficient in his pitch count and pitched a very good game tonight.”
The Nationals have won four of Jackson’s six starts since the 33-year-old joined the club in mid-July. He was signed as a minor league free agent in June.
“He wants to do what he can to help this club,” Baker said.
Brandon Kintzler handled the eighth, and Sean Doolittle pitched the ninth for his 10th save.
Yates (2-4) took the loss after being victimized by Zimmerman as the Padres dropped the opener of the four-game set.
Jhoulys Chacin worked five innings and wiggled from jams in the first three. He yielded only one run despite giving up three hits and four walks and hitting two batters. Chacin is 5-1 in his past nine starts.
“I didn’t have my best command with my fastball today,” Chacin said. “You can’t walk three, four guys in an outing and get your pitch count up like that.”
Despite that, he kept the Padres within striking distance.
“At the end of the day, he gave us an opportunity to win a baseball game, so that’s all you can really ask for from your starter,” San Diego manager Andy Green said.
The Padres got the go-ahead run in scoring position with one out in the seventh when pinch hitter Allen Cordoba walked and stole second after Manuel Margot popped out. The threat ended when Carlos Asuaje grounded out.
Jose Pirela’s second hit, an RBI single in the third inning, drew the Padres even 1-1. Margot opened the inning with a double before coming around.
The Nationals used a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly to take a 1-0 lead in the third.
Wilmer Difo laid down a bunt to get Howie Kendrick to third after his leadoff double, and Kendrick scored on Adam Lind’s flyout.
Chacin, who hit Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon in the inning, limited the damage as the Nationals left the bases loaded when Matt Wieters grounded out.
NOTES: Nationals RHP Ryan Madson (finger) was placed on the disabled list. Washington summoned RHP Shawn Kelley from Triple-A Syracuse. ... Washington manager Dusty Baker said he anticipates RHP Stephen Strasburg (elbow) coming off the disabled list and starting Saturday. ... Padres OF Matt Szczur was placed on the family leave list. San Diego recalled LHP Buddy Baumann from Triple-A El Paso. ... San Diego INF Cory Spangenberg had his season-high eight-game hitting streak snapped. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.