September 2, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 78 Review: Nats drop finale to D-Backs in 11

The finale of the Washington Nationals series against the Arizona Diamondback featured a classic pitcher’s duel, with Stephen Strasburg hosting the D-Back Patrick Corbin, who entered 9-0 on the season. Though neither figured in the decision, the two aces did not disappoint, both giving their team a strong seven innings and leaving the game tied at two runs apiece.

The game remained tied until the 11th until Miguel Montero doubled, took third on a sacrifice, and scored on Didi Gregorius’ perfect drag bunt single to wrest a 3-2 win from the Nats.

Washington (39-39) falls to 5 1/2 games behind the division-leading Braves, who had the night off.

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth, when Ian Desmond smacked a two-out, two-run homer, with Adam LaRoche aboard courtesy of base on balls. It was Desmond’s 13th home run (and RBIs 43 & 43) of the season.

The Diamondbacks tied it up in the sixth off Strasburg with a two-run shot of their own. Corbin singled to lead off the inning, and after Gerardo Parra couldn’t move the runner up, Aaron Hill launched a Strasburg fastball into the left field bleachers to make it 2-2.

Strasburg went another inning, getting the D-Backs in order in the seventh and turned things over to the bullpen. He’s thrown 113 pitches on the muggy afternoon, 76 for strikes. He allowed just the two runs on six hits and two walks, striking out just four.

Drew Storen stuck out the side in the eighth. Ian Krol, despite two base hits, worked a scoreless ninth and Rafael Soriano had no trouble in the tenth.

Craig Stammen (L, 4-3) took over for the Nats in the 11th inning, and gave up a ground-rule double to leadoff batter Miguel Montero. A.J. Pollock pinch-ran for the catcher and was promptly sacrificed to third by Cody Ross. After a walk to Jason Kubel, Didi Gregorious laid down a perfect drag bunt and beat the throw by catcher Jhonatan Solano, with Pollock cruising home with the tie-breaking run.

THE GOOD: This was an old fashioned pitcher’s duel. Strasburg and Corbin traded out for out much of the day, and both were stung in the same manner.

THE BAD: The 1-2 hitters in the order, Denard Span and Anthony Rendon, combined to go 1-for-10.

THE UGLY: The Nats, on a day when there weren’t too many opportunities, went 0-for-6 with RISP in the first nine innings.

THE STATS: 7 hits, 2 BB, 10 Ks. 0-for-6 with RISP, 7 LOB. No errors, 1 DP.

NEXT GAME: Friday at 7:10 pm against the New York Mets at Citifield. Ross Detwiler (2-6, 4.18) faces Matt Harvey (7-1, 2.05).

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