Manny Machado, Padres pursue series victory over A’s

The San Diego Padres’ best guess that star third baseman Manny Machado would avoid an injured list stint proved to be correct.

After missing four starts due to a strained hip flexor sustained Wednesday, Machado returned Monday as the designated hitter, collecting two hits in San Diego’s 6-1 win over the visiting Oakland Athletics.

It’s expected that Machado will return to his normal position on Tuesday night when the Padres try to clinch the three-game series.

Machado got hurt running out a grounder on Wednesday, and he subsequently appeared only once (as a pinch hitter on Thursday) before starting Monday. Manager Mike Shildt didn’t feel it was that serious an injury, and Machado’s quick return proved him correct.

“We wouldn’t put him in there if he was overly compromised to run the bases,” Shildt said pregame on Monday. “He can clearly swing. He’s been taking batting practice. … We’ll get his volume up to be able to get him back in the field at third base.”

Machado helped the Padres finish with 10 hits, a total highlighted by solo homers from Fernando Tatis Jr. and Jake Cronenworth. Tatis belted a shot off the top of the right-center-field wall in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games.

The Padres will hand the ball on Tuesday to Randy Vasquez (1-3, 5.40 ERA), hoping he can build on how he finished his start Thursday night. The right-hander got a no-decision after going a career-high 6 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and three runs with no walks and three strikeouts.

Vasquez, who didn’t allow a run over his final 5 2/3 innings of that game, will oppose Oakland for the first time in his career.

The A’s will turn to left-hander JP Sears (4-5, 3.93 ERA), who pitched well in his latest start but still took a 3-0 home loss to the Seattle Mariners on Thursday. Sears gave up only three hits and two runs over six innings with two walks and eight strikeouts. He has never faced San Diego in his career.

A lack of offensive punch has colored Oakland’s recent efforts. Since an 11-9 win at Atlanta on June 1, the A’s have scored more than three runs just once in the past eight games, managing just 13 total while going 2-6. The Athletics created plenty of chances to score Monday night but stranded 11 runners, going 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

“A little bit of pressing from our offense,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said of his team’s recent performances. “The guys are kind of feeling that pressure, feeling that grind. At some point, they’re going to have to relax.”

The Athletics scored first via Tyler Soderstrom’s leadoff homer in the second and got runners to second and third later in the inning. However, Abraham Toro flied out to center to end the threat. Oakland had another two-on, two-out shot while trailing 3-1 in the sixth before Toro waved at the first pitch and grounded out.

There was a bit of good news for the A’s on the injury front. Reliever Lucas Erceg, a key component in a bullpen that fueled surprising early-season success, got through a bullpen session Sunday in fine shape and could be activated this week. The right-hander has been out since May 26 due to a strained right forearm.

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