With a matchup of power lefties Gio Gonzalez and Madison Bumgarner, one could have figured Wednesday’s get-away day matchup between the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants to be a low scoring pitcher’s duel. That’s exactly what happened, as the two starters traded outs for seven-plus innings apiece. But neither starter figured in the decision, as the teams played into extra innings for the second day in a row.
This time, it was the Nats getting a clutch hit in the tenth inning, as Ian Desmond’s RBI single brought home Bryce Harper with the winning run, delivering a 2-1 victory over the Giants at a sold-out, sun-splashed AT&T Park.
The Nats (24-23) went 4-6 on the west coast road trip and avoided falling below .500 with the win.
Gonzalez had some issues in the first inning, as the first two batters of the game reached against him, but he recovered nicely to retire the next three batters.
Gonzalez went on to put away 17 of the next 19 batters, until a two-out double by Andres Torres in the seventh, but he came back to get Brandon Crawford to bounce out to second.
Bumgarner was every bit Gio’s equal, allowing just four hits and two walks over seven innings, striking out five. The Nats finally broke through in the top of the sixth against Bumgarner. as Bryce Harper clobbered a 1-2 pitch into the left field stands, giving the Nats a 1-0 lead. Harper’s homer was a display of pure, raw power, taking a fastball on the outer half the other way.
Gonzalez got the first out of the eighth, retiring pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval on a short grounder to third, before walking Angel Pagan, ending his day. Manager Davey Johnson called on Drew Storen, and Storen walked the first hitter he saw, light-hitting Marco Scutaro. Reigning N.L. MVP Buster Posey was next and lashed an 0-1 slider through the hole between short and second, and left fielder Roger Bernadina had no chance to get the speedy Pagan at the plate. The Nats were spared any further damage in the inning as Adam LaRoche snared Brandon Belt’s screaming liner and threw to second to get the force, ending the inning.
In contrast to Tuesday night’s loss, it was the Nats that came through in extra innings in this one. Harper lashed a one-out double to the right field corner to start the rally. The Giants intentionally walked Ryan Zimmerman to face Ian Desmond. On a 1-1 count, Desmond coaxed ground ball through the right side of the infield, which scored Harper easily from second. That’s where the rally stalled, but Rafael Soriano made the one-run lead hold up, pitching a 1-2-3 tenth inning for his 13th save.
THE GOOD: Gio Gonzalez. 7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. Just an exceptional performance. Honorable mention to Harper, who scored both the Nats runs, and made a nice running catch near the wall to start conquering his fear of fences.
THE BAD: Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina combined to go 0-for-5 in the sixth spot in the Nats order.
THE UGLY: Drew Storen. Storen missed his target consistently with his fastball and the Giants were sitting on his slider. Until he has better confidence with his fastball he’s going to continue to struggle.
THE STATS: 8 hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks. 1-for-7 with RISP, 10 LOB. No errors, no DPs.
NEXT GAME: Friday against the Phillies at 7:05 from Nationals Park. Jordan Zimmermann (7-2, 1.62) hosts Kyle Kendrick (4-2, 2.82.