The Washington Nationals (47-59) defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks (39-67) last night in the desert by a score of 3-1. This game was the first of seven on a weeklong west coast swing.
Livan Hernandez (8-7, 3.12) earned the win for the Nats going 7 1/3 innings allowing five hits and one run, while striking out five and walking just one…another vintage Livan start. The toughest inning for the pitcher was the bottom half of the second when, with one out, Mark Reynolds got a rally started with a line drive single to left field. With Reynolds on first, Stephen Drew then singled to right field allowing Reynolds to reach third and putting the Nationals in a tough situation with runners on first and third and one out. Livan couldn’t keep the D-Backs from letting that runner reach home thanks to a fielders choice to second by Gerardo Parra, allowing Reynolds to put up Arizona’s first and only run.
Washington did all of their damage early, scoring one run in each of the games first three frames against D-Backs starter Rodrigo Lopez (5-10, 4.64). Lopez’s only two walks of the night were issued to the second and third batters of the game when Adam Kennedy and Ryan Zimmerman were given free passes with one out. After an Adam Dunn strikeout in which the bat never left his shoulders, Josh Willingham took it upon himself to drive in Washington’s first run of the game on a single to center field. It was “The Hammer’s” 54th RBI of the season.
The Nationals second run came from Ivan Rodriquez in the unlikeliest of fashion by driving a slider that got too much of the plate over the wall in left while leading off the top of the second. It was Pudge’s second home run of the year and 307th of his career.
The third and final run for both teams came from a more familiar source, Adam Dunn. His solo shot in the top of the third gave the Nationals a 3-1 they wouldn’t relinquish. The home run was his 26th of the season, tying him with Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera for third most in all of baseball. It was also his 67th RBI of the season, ranking 10th in the NL.
The game moved at a rapid pace, as the teams squeezed all nine innings into two hours and 19 minutes time. Interestingly, from the top of the third to the top of the seventh, neither pitcher faced more than four batters in an inning, as they got hitters out quickly and efficiently.
Sean Burnett continued his impressive season finishing the final 1 2/3 of the game, not allowing a runner to reach base, while lowering his ERA to 2.82 in the process.
The Nationals and D-Backs face off for round two tonight in Phoenix as Scott Olsen (3-2, 3.67) goes up against Joe Saunders (0-0, 2.57).