The Washington Nationals (74-54) jumped all over Tim Lincecum, scoring six runs off of him in under three innings, and Jordan Zimmermann was masterful as the Nats evened the series against the San Francisco Giants (68-60), winning 6-2.
The way tonight’s game started, it seemed like the Giants had designs on another explosion like the previous night’s 10-3 decision. Angel Pagan led off with a double, and Hunter Pence hacked a shoulder-high pitch into the right field seats to give the Giants a 2-0 lead before Zimmermann had gotten an out.
But after that, Zimmermann (W, 9-5) really settled down. He retired the next nine Giants he faced, and would not give up another extra-base hit for the rest of the game. Despite two innings in which the Giants put two men on with one out or fewer, Zimmermann escaped trouble both times. His final line was scintillating: 8 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K.
The Nationals’ offense was hot and cold in even greater extremes. In the first inning against Lincecum, Jayson Werth knocked an RBI single and another run scored on an Adam LaRoche double play grounder to tie the game. Werth and Denard Span added one-run singles in the second inning, with a third run scoring on a throwing error, and Asdrubal Cabrera launched a solo homer in the third to push the lead to four runs.
Zimmermann doubled with two outs in the third, and that would be the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Giants pulled Lincecum (L, 10-9) who left with an ugly line: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 2 K. Enter Yusmeiro Petit, who proceeded to shut the Nationals down.
After Zimmermann’s double, no National would reach base for the rest of the game, as the last 16 Nats to bat were retired. Petit, who was a strike away from a perfect game last September, threw 4.1 perfect innings, with another coming from Santiago Casilla. But the Nationals already had all the runs they needed, and after a scoreless ninth from Matt Thornton, they sealed their 74th win of the season.
Stephen Strasburg will face Ryan Vogelsong in the rubber game Sunday.