Nelson makes clutch play in first-base debut

Nelson makes clutch play in first-base debut

SAN DIEGO -- If you thought Braves' closer Craig Kimbrel walking three and allowing a game-winning hit in the 12th inning Saturday was a long shot (it was), then consider the latest Padre to take a turn at first base, Chris Nelson.

Pressed into duty in extra innings, Nelson -- who had never played a single inning in the big leagues at that position -- might have saved the game with a smothering stop of a ball Chris Johnson scorched in the top of the 12th inning, setting the stage for the Padres to beat Kimbrel in the bottom of the frame.

The Padres won, 3-2, in 12 innings on Will Venable's walk-off single off Kimbrel. With the bases loaded and no outs, Padres reliever Tim Stauffer got Evan Gattis to bounce into a 5-2-3 double play, with runners advancing to second and third base.

Not out of the woods yet, Stauffer got Johnson to hit a ball the other way down the first-base line that Nelson -- who plays everywhere else in the infield -- drove to his left and knocked down, recovering in time to flip to Stauffer for the last out of the inning.

"That was a game-saver," said Padres manager Bud Black.

After the game, Stauffer was told that Nelson, a shortstop by trade, had never played first base in his five seasons in the big leagues -- and only seven games in parts of 11 Minor League seasons.

"I'm glad I didn't know that before," Stauffer said, smiling.

Nelson, who signed a Minor League deal with the team on June 19, said he got a lot of playing time at the position in Spring Training with the Reds. When asked to rank where first base fit with all of the other positions he played, Nelson smiled.

"It's right at the top," said Nelson, who has only played second and third base with the Padres. "It's all about comfort and confidence. And I'm comfortable over there."

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