Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nats back in first

SAN FRANCISCO—Even with standouts Bryce Harper and Gio Gonzalez on the disabled list, the Washington Nationals are shutting down the team with the best record in baseball and taking over the title as the league’s hottest club.
Jayson Werth hit his first homer in almost a month and drove in three runs, and the Nationals capitalized on Matt Cain’s erratic start, to beat the San Francisco Giants 6-2 last night for their fourth-straight win.

“We kind of got Cain on the ropes early, got his pitch count up, got some big hits early to kind of set the tone for the game,” Werth said.
“It’s hard to recover from.”
Cain (1-4) walked the first three batters he faced before Adam LaRoche’s two-run single during a three-run first inning.
Werth’s solo shot in the fifth and two-run single in the ninth provided the rest of the pop for the Nationals, who have won 10-of-12, including the last three at San Francisco.
Former third baseman Ryan Zimmerman made a pair of diving catches in left field to highlight a stellar defensive effort, and Tanner Roark (5-4) allowed just two runs and seven hits in six-plus innings to propel Washington to another win.
“We’re playing great as a team right row,” said Roark, who struck out four and walked none.
“Just keep it going. It’s exciting.”
Brandon Crawford and Pablo Sandoval each drove in a run for the Giants, who now have lost a season high-tying three-straight after winning five in a row.
Cain’s struggles might have been the most disappointing thing of all for the Giants.
In his second start since a stint on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, the former ace reverted back to his early-season woes against Washington.
Cain gave up four runs and three hits in five innings—walking five and striking out four.
“It was too much of a deficit to come back from,” he conceded. “We needed a better start than that.
“I wanted some clean innings,” Cain added. “I made it too difficult.”
The finale of the four-game series goes today but the NL East-leading Nationals already have handed San Francisco its first series loss since losing two of three at Pittsburgh from May 5-7.
Before the Nationals showed up in San Francisco this week, the Giants had not lost two in a row since May 16-17 to the Marlins.
The Nationals, meanwhile, are doing it by getting contributions at the plate, on the mound, and in the field.
After Crawford’s RBI triple in the fourth, second baseman Danny Espinosa made a diving stop on Gregor Blanco’s sharp grounder and threw out the speedy runner at first.
Zimmerman, filling in for Harper in left, also swiped another run from San Francisco in the sixth when he made a diving catch of Crawford’s slicing fly after Michael Morse doubled.
Elsewhere in the NL, Philadelphia beat San Diego 3-0, Cincinnati blanked L.A. 5-0, Milwaukee downed New York 3-1, Pittsburgh doubled Chicago 4-2, and Colorado dumped Atlanta 8-2.
In interleague play, Tampa Bay doubled St. Louis 6-3, Texas blanked Miami 6-0, and Houston beat Arizona 5-1.

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