SAN DIEGO -- Three dramatic victories in four games tells the San Diego Padres that, despite their mediocre record, they're doing something right.
The Padres (74-74) took two of three from the Nationals, who fell 4½ games behind Houston in the wild-card race. San Diego maintained a 5½-game lead over San Francisco and reduced its magic number to nine for clinching baseball's worst division.
"Shoot, hopefully these two miracles in one week, and then today, battling back, will springboard us into just playing good team ball," said Robert Fick, who was part of the winning rally.
"We know we have some hope here," Fick said. "We know we have the right guys. We just have to execute and we did that."
The string of thrilling wins started Wednesday in San Francisco with a 5-4 victory in 10 innings. Sean Burroughs hit a tying, two-run double with two outs in the ninth, and Brian Giles won it with an RBI single in the 10th.
On Saturday night, the Padres trailed 5-0 with two outs in the ninth before tying it with a five-run rally capped by Khalil Greene's grand slam. Ramon Hernandez won it in the 12th with a three-run homer.
After getting seven strong innings from right-hander Pedro Astacio, the Padres won Sunday with small ball.
Olivo, whose base running blunder thwarted a rally in the seventh, beat out an infield single to shortstop against Joey Eischen (2-1) leading off the ninth. Eischen hit Fick with an 0-2 pitch and both runners advanced on Dave Roberts' sacrifice bunt. Eischen's errant throw to second baseman Deivi Cruz carried into the baseline and deflected off Roberts as Cruz tried to make the catch, allowing Olivo to score.
"I was just running as hard as I could, wanting to make them make a play, and the next thing you know, the ball was in my chest and my arms," Roberts said. "I just wanted to make a good bunt and put some pressure on them. It was bang-bang, and fortunately it got by him."
Asked if there was more pain losing the last two games the way the Nationals did, manager Frank Robinson said: "I guess more disgust because we had two games won and then we lost them."
Eischen blamed himself.
"I hit a guy in the back with an 0-2 fastball and I screwed up a bunt. The throw was a little off. I screwed it up, not the team."
Akinori Otsuka (2-6) pitched the ninth for the win.
The Padres tied the score at 1-1 in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Greene.
Mark Loretta started the rally with a leadoff single against Gary Majewski but was forced at second on a bunt by Eric Young. Brian Giles walked and Joe Randa was hit by a pitch to load the bases and bring up Greene, whose fly to center scored Young.
"It hasn't been pretty for us," Fick said. "We still have a chance to finish with a decent record and put away all the talk about us being .500 or under .500 and just getting this thing right going into the playoffs."
Nationals right-hander Esteban Loaiza, who grew up in Tijuana, Mexico, and went to school across the border in Imperial Beach, pitched seven scoreless innings against his hometown team.
He managed to get out of a jam in the seventh thanks to some bad base running by Olivo. Xavier Nady and Olivo singled with none out and advanced on pinch-hitter Fick's sacrifice. Roberts grounded out to first and Olivo was doubled off second to end the inning. Olivo was running on contact and got hung up when he saw that Damian Jackson, who was pinch-running for Nady, didn't leave third.
Loaiza allowed seven hits, struck out five and walked none.
"Losing last night, losing today makes it a little bit of a downer," Loaiza said.
Astacio held the Nationals to three hits and one run in seven innings in his first start since coming off the disabled list.
Astacio then shut down the Nationals for the next five innings, including retiring the side in order three times. He allowed only two base runners after the second, both on walks, and both runners were erased on double plays.
- Hernandez didn't start because manager Bruce Bochy plans to play him every game of a seven-game road trip that starts Monday night in Colorado.
- Loretta snapped an 0-for-26 skid with his eighth-inning single.
- Guzman was 8-for-21 with three doubles, a triple and a homer on the six-game trip.