Capitol engagement

The Padres finally arrive in Washington, D.C., this weekend -- 31 seasons behind schedule.

The Padres had packed their equipment and were headed to the nation's capital in January 1974 when Ray Kroc, the creator of the McDonald's fast food chain, made an 11th-hour purchase of the team and saved it for San Diego.

Kroc's purchase blocked the club's pending sale to Washington, D.C., interests.

Among the disappointed fans at the time was Padres manager Bruce Bochy, who has a warm spot in his heart for the Washington Nationals.

"I was a fan of the old Washington Senators," Bochy said recently while talking of going to games in Washington, D.C., when his father, a career Army non-commissioned officer, was stationed in the nation's capital.

But don't expect sentimentality to cloud Bochy's resolve this weekend as the Padres make their first visit to Washington. The Padres went into Thursday's rubber match of a three-game series in Pittsburgh having lost 13 of their last 15 games -- although they still hold a one-game lead over Arizona in the putrid National League West.

"We're finally seeing some good signs," said Bochy, whose club has scored 19 runs in its first two games in Pittsburgh -- equaling the club's total for the previous 10 games.

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