The Nationals got hard lessons in power, pitching and defense from the New York Yankees on Friday night as the American League East leaders raced to a 7-2 win in the opener of their weekend set at Nationals Park.
Curtis Granderson had a field day against the Nats’ left-handed relievers, doubling in two runs to key a four-run seventh and adding a homer for the Yankees, who have won seven straight. On the mound, Phil Hughes (7-5) allowed just one run on six hits in six innings, with the backing of some fine defense, including a double play to end a troublesome third inning.
Michael Morse had two hits and and RBI and Jesus Flores added single and a double for the Nats, who had won six in a row coming into the game. Gio Gonzalez (8-3) allowed three runs on five hits and a pair of walks in six innings, but his bullpen and the Nats’ defense let him down as the Yankees put the game away in the seventh.
Gonzalez left trailing 2-1 after allowing Andruw Jones‘ leadoff single in the seventh. After pinch runner Dewayne Wise stole second, Brad Lidge walked Russell Martin, and Jayson Nix advanced the runners a sacrifice bunt. Lidge then put pinch-hitter Robinson Cano on intentionally to load the bases.
Derek Jeter followed with a sharply hit ground ball into the hole at short that allowed the runner on third to score. Ian Desmond fielded it cleanly, but his only play was to first, and the throw skipped by Adam La Roche, allowing the fourth run to score and Jeter to take second. Left-hander Mike Gonzalez then came on to face Curtis Granderson, but allowed him to drive a 1-2 fastball over Steve Lombardozzi‘s head in left field for a two-run double and a 6-1 New York lead.
Granderson made it 7-1 in the ninth when he pulled lefty Tom Gorzelanny‘s fastball into the Nats’ bullpen for his 20th homer of the season.
The Yankees took a 2-0 lead in the third after Jeter doubled with one out and Mark Teixeira walked with two outs. Alex Rodriguez drove Jeter home on a ground ball through the hole at second, and Teixeiera scored on Nick Swisher‘s single to left. A-Rod rounded second on the play, but Ryan Zimmerman cut off the throw from Lombardozzi and caught Rodriguez in a rundown, tossing to Danny Espinosa for the third out.
The Nats cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the inning on a bases-loaded single from Michael Morse. Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper led off with back-to-back singles, and LaRoche walked with two out to load the bases. After Morse’s RBI single, the Yankees escaped when Desmond grounded Hughes’ first pitch into a 6-4-3 double play.
Washington’s second run came in the ninth, when Morse doubled off David Robertson, took third on Desmond’s groundout and scored on a groundout by Espinosa. After Flores doubled, pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel struck out and was retired at first after a dropped third strike to end the game.
Champ of the Game: Morse, who is rounding into form after missing the first two months of the season with an injury. He has now hit in four straight games and had three multi-hit games since returning to the lineup June 2 against Atlanta.
For the Yankees, it was Granderson, who feasted on pitchers who were sent into the game specifically to get him out.
Chump of the game: Co-chump awards go to Lidge and Mike Gonzalez for letting the game get out of hand in the seventh. Lidge had Martin in a 1-2 hole before losing the Yankee catcher. Gonzalez had one job to do — retire Granderson on a lefty-lefty matchup — and he didn’t do it.
For the Yankees, A-Rod’s rundown following Nix’s RBI single was a grandstand play. The run would have scored anyway and A-Rod could have set his team up for a bigger inning by staying on second.