A week ago, the Washington Nationals had trouble putting two runs together, losing three out of four games to Baltimore and Colorado, scoring seven runs total in the four games. But since that second game against the Rockies, the Nats hitters haven’t missed much and the hit parade continued in Nats Park last night.
Before an almost capacity crowd on a hot, muggy night that was interrupted 85 minutes for a delay that featured very little rain but lots of lightning, the Nats provided the thunder once again, pounding two-time CY Young winner Tim Lincecum and four relievers for 13 hits en route to a 9-3 win over the N.L. West leading San Francisco Giants.
The Nats record stands at 46-32, 3 1/2 games ahead of the New York Mets for first in the N.L. East.
Washington jumped all over Lincecum early and never relented, pushing two runs across in the second, three in the third and another three in the fourth, with all three of those runs scored after Lincecum had been given the hook after loading the bases with one out. Michael Morse had the kill shot, a two-run single off reliever George Kontos, who took over in a tough spot for Lincecum.
Ian Desmond had the biggest blast, a two-run shot in the third, his 14th of the season. Bryce Harper went 2-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored. Danny Espinosa went 3-for-4 with a run and RBI, all left-handed. Even Nats starter Jordan Zimmermann pitched in with a run-scoring double.
As for Zimmermann, his effort on the mound should not be forgotten in the flurry of offense. The young righty had his night end with the rain delay, but before that he threw six very quality innings, allowing just two runs — one earned — on seven hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven. His biggest jam was in the fifth, when an error by Ryan Zimmerman and consecutive singles by the Giants Nos. 8 and 9 hitters loaded the bases with no outs.
A broken bat single by leadoff hitter Gregor Blanco scored the Giants’ first run. But after a visit by pitching coach Steve McCatty, Zimmermann (W, 5-6, 2.70) bore down and retired Ryan Theriot and All-Stars Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey in succession to end the rally.
THE GOOD: Danny Espinosa. I’ve been hard on him in this space so I better give credit when it’s due. His three hit night left-handed was nice to see.
THE BAD: The only player not to join in the hit parade was Jesus Flores, who ended up 0-for-4 with 3 LOB.
THE UGLY: Lincecum. He looked awful. Whenever the Nats got him in the stretch, which was often (9 hits and two walks in 3.1 IP), his fastball velocity dropped and the pitch flattened out. The seven earned runs raises his ERA for the season to an unsightly 6.08.
THE STATS: 13 H, 2 BB, 6 K. 4-for-14 with RISP, 7 LOB, no GIDP. E: Zimmerman (6). 1 DP.
NEXT GAME: Wednesday, July 4, at 11:00 am again the Giants. Edwin Jackson (4-4, 3.57) hosts lefty Madison Bumgarner (10-4, 2.85).
NATS NOTES: Before the game, the Nats placed RHP Chien-Ming Wang on the disabled list and activated reliever Henry Rodriguez. Wang apparently suffered some discomfort in his right hip while trying to throw a bullpen session.