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Rizzo makes big splash as Padres beat Nats

Rizzo makes big splash as Padres beat Nats

Rizzo makes big splash as Padres beat Nats
SAN DIEGO -- There were just enough indelible moments from Anthony Rizzo's Major League debut with the Padres on Thursday to throw an occasional charge into the crowd of 16,464 at PETCO Park.

And there was also one distinctively-scary moment when the crowd fell into a collective hush, when Rizzo was upended by the three-foot high barrier separating the playing field from the seats while chasing after a foul ball.

"I made a play like that the other day in Tucson," Rizzo said of Ian Desmond's foul ball that he couldn't get to in the seventh inning, one that landed in the second row of seats down the first-base line.

"I guess I was feeling good about myself."

That was certainly understandable. After all, Rizzo had his first Major League hit, scored his first run and reached base three times as the Padres defeated the Nationals, 7-3, in the first game of a four-game series.

Rizzo, added to the roster earlier in the day after hitting .365 in 52 games for Triple-A Tucson, struck out in his first at-bat and then tripled off the wall in deep center field in the fifth inning. He walked twice, including once during a three-run sixth inning.

"I couldn't be happier," said the 21-year-old Rizzo. "I'm ecstatic."

Rizzo might have been the biggest storyline going on Thursday for the Padres (29-35), but he certainly wasn't the only story worth following, as Chase Headley hit a two-run home run in the first inning and pitcher Aaron Harang won his seventh game of the season.

But Rizzo, who hadn't played a game above Double-A before this season, was the one standing in front of a pack of reporters after the game.

"You only had one hit ... geez," said Padres reliever Chad Qualls, passing by Rizzo's locker with a smile on his face.

Rizzo struck out looking in the second inning on a pitch by Washington starting pitcher Livan Hernandez (3-8) that appeared inside. Three innings later, Rizzo got on top of a Hernandez sinker that didn't sink, sending it off the fence in center field.

The ball kicked away briefly from Nationals center fielder Rick Ankiel, allowing Rizzo to get to third base for only the second triple of a professional career that spans 1,282 at-bats.

"I know I got enough of it, but I wasn't sure if it was high enough," Rizzo said. "I kept talking to it, 'Get up, get up.'"

Rizzo eventually scored on Chris Denorfia's two-out infield single.

San Diego manager Bud Black, who essentially lobbied general manager Jed Hoyer to get Rizzo here this week, a week before Hoyer had initially planned, wasn't so much impressed by the triple, but how Rizzo just seemed to fit in.

"What stood out to me? He looked as though he belonged on the field. From the time the game started he looked poised, he looked composed, he had some good at-bats, knocked the heck out of one," Black said.

"Just the overall swings, just the overall at-bats [were impressive]. He looked in control of his game."

Rizzo showed his discerning eye in that sixth inning, laying off two close pitches to earn a walk against left-handed reliever Sean Burnett. That walk loomed large, as the next reliever, Cole Kimball, walked pinch-hitter Kyle Phillips to force in a run.

Logan Forsythe, another pinch-hitter, followed with a sacrifice fly that gave San Diego a 6-2 lead.

Rizzo gave the crowd and, no doubt, the Padres' front office a momentary scare in the seventh inning, when he tried to track down a foul ball hit down the first-base line. He ran right into the wall separating the field from the first row of seats and was upended.

"I don't know what happened," Rizzo said.

Headley, who hit a two-run home run the other way to left-center field in the first inning, saw a player on Thursday who looked like he belonged here.

"I thought he showed a lot of poise," Headley said.

Headley's home run, his second of the season, and a nice start from Harang (7-2) -- who allowed two runs over six innings -- were enough to give the Padres their fifth victory in eight games on this 11-game homestand.

Rizzo wasn't around for the start of it, but it's certain he will be here for the end of it -- and well beyond.

"I don't think it hit me until the seventh inning -- when I looked around and realized, 'This is it,'" Rizzo said. "This is a dream come true."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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