September 21, 2019

Washington Nationals Game 116 Review: Gio roughed up, Nats lose fifth straight

BRYCE HARPER LEAVES GAME IN SEVENTH AFTER FOULING BALL OFF BACK LEG

When it rains, it pours.

Gio Gonzalez had his shortest outing of the year, the bullpen allowed more runs after that and the Washington Nationals lost their fifth straight game, 12-6 to the San Francisco Giants, on Saturday night.

The Nats pitchers walked four in the game, and all four came around to score. Each of the four pitchers used by the Nats allowed runs.

The Nats fell to .500 (58-58) for the season and remain 4 1/2 games behind the New York Mets, 5-3 losers to Pittsburgh in extra innings.

As has been customary of late, the Nats scored in the first inning. With two outs, Bryce Harper walked, then Yunel Escobar laced a double to right that Hunter Pence misplayed and Harper raced all the way around from first to score.

The Nats added to that in the second. Ian Desmond led the frame off and launched a mammoth blast to the left field concourse, estimated at 477 feet.

That’s where the good times ended.

The Giants got to Gonzalez hard in the third. Kelby Tomlinson tripled to lead off and Gonzalez responded by then walking the No. 8 hitter, catcher Hector Sanchez, and pitcher Jake Peavy. Gregor Blanco singled to score Tomlinson and move everyone else up a base. Matt Duffy then doubled, clearing the bases. Brandon belt followed with a single to plate Duffy and two batters later, Brandon Crawford singled in Belt, the sixth run of the inning.

Gonzalez’ night ended there, after 2 2/3 innings. He allowed six earned runs on five hits and two walks, striking out just one.

Tanner Roark took over and was okay until the fifth. He walked Belt with one out and Buster Posey doubled him home. After Pence struck out, manager Matt Williams had Roark intentionally walk Crawford to get to Tomlinson. The rookie answered the call, doubling to plate both runners to make it 9-2.

The Nats added some window dressing in the sixth against a tiring Peavy. Desmond singled with one out and went to second when Jayson Werth walked. Jose Lobaton crushed a double off the wall in center to score both runners. An out later, Michael Taylor tripled to left and Lobaton walked home the Nats fifth run of the night.

But it was too little, too late. And the Giants responded anyway. In the sixth against Felipe Rivero, Blanco singled with one out, stole second, and scored on Belt’s double to center.

The Nats did have one more highlight in them. Hunter Pence hit a hard gorund ball to first that deflected off Clint Robinson’s glove. It popped into short right where Anthony Rendon leaped, barehanded the ball and threw to first. The throw was to the inside of the bag, but Rivero laid out for it coming across the bag and made the catch moving full speed, akin to a wide receiver in football.

San Francisco added to its lead in the eighth against Drew Storen in a mop-up roll. With one out, Blanco singled to center. Duffy followed with a booming double off the base of the wall in center, scoring Blanco. Juan Perez then reached after Robinson flat dropped Rendon’s throw on a grounder to second. Posey then singled to left and Duffy scored.

Danny Espinosa hit a solo homer in the ninth, his 12th of the season and first pinch-hit homer of his career.

HERO: Ian Desmond. 2 for 4, two runs, massive homer when game was still in doubt.

GOAT: Gio Gonzalez. Steve McCatty got tossed for complaining about the strike zone, but if you walk the No. 8 hitter and pitcher in consecutive plate appearances, you don’t deserve to complain.

NEXT GAME: Sunday at 4:05 p.m. Eastern. Joe Ross (3-4, 3.44) faces Madison Bumgarner (13-6, 3.15).

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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