The night after Washington made Todd Wellemeyer look like Tim Lincecum…Tim Lincecum sure looked a lot like Todd Wellemeyer in his shortest outing of the year as the Nationals toppled the Giants 7-3. The two-time defending NL Cy Young winner earned his first loss of the year by going 4.2 innings giving up 6 hits and 6 runs, all of them earned, and walking five. Luis Atilano bumped his record up to 4-1 and went a solid 5.1 innings giving up 4 hits, 2 runs, yet did not walk anyone or record a strikeout.
The game stayed scoreless until the Nationals broke out the bats in the third, when Adam Kennedy drove a pitch to center field that resulted in Nyjer Morgan running through his third base coaches stop sign to score standing up, while literally tripping over home plate. Later in the inning Josh Willingham put another run on the board by smacking the first pitch he saw for a double to center, scoring Kennedy. Shortstop Ian Desmond tallied on the final run of the inning by knocking in Adam Dunn in a play that ended up ending the inning as Willingham was thrown out at home for the final out. But the damage was done, Lincecum’s fastball was weak all night, all 3 run scoring hits in the third were off his 4-seam which didn’t reach any higher than 94 mph.
The Nats continued to get to Lincecum in the 5th, led by the “blazing speed” of Kennedy. During Ryan Zimmerman’s at bat, Kennedy not only stole second, but swiped third as well as Zimmerman was issued the free base. Now with a runner on first and third and nobody out, who better to have up in that situation than Dunn? On the second pitch of the at bat Dunn got the job “done” by bringing in Kennedy on a sacrifice fly to Aaron Rowand. The wheels continued to fall off for Lincecum as Zimmerman stole second and Josh Willingham was hit by a pitch, all leading up to a two run hit by Ian Desmond, giving him a total of 3 RBI on the night.
With a commanding lead, the Nationals bullpen did a good job at not allowing San Francisco to make a significant comeback with appearances from Doug Slaten, Drew Storen, and Tyler Clippard, who came in to close out the games final 2 innings. The play of the game has to be Ryan Zimmerman’s play in the 9th. With Juan Uribe at first, Bengie Molina scorched a grounder down the line which Zimmerman grabbed and literally flung it perfectly to Alberto Gonzalez who then got it to Kennedy at first in plenty of time for the double play. It was vintage Zimmerman, who likely secured his second consecutive gold glove on the play. The Nationals come into the rubber game of the series sending Craig Stammen against Barry Zito. Hopefully with their steller performance last night, Washington will have the confidence to get to Zito early and often, as the team finds themselves only 3 games out of first place.