Game 78: Nationals 9, Giants 3


Jordan Zimmermann can no longer complain that he doesn’t get enough run support.

For the second straight start, Zimmermann was staked to a big lead before he allowed the opposition to score, as Ian Desmond hit a two-run homer, and Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche each drove in two more runs to lead the Nats to a 9-3 win over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night.

The Nats had been averaging just 3.1 runs per game for Zimmermann (5-6) prior to last week’s visit to Colorado, but in posting victories over the Rockies on June 27 and now the Giants, they’ve given him comfortable margins with which to work.

On Tuesday it was eight runs against Giants starter Tim Lincecum (3-9), who was pounded for nine hits in just 3.1 innings of work. The big blow was Desmond’s homer, his 14th of the season, in the third inning, which extended the Nats’ lead to 5-0. It came immediately after LaRoche singled to score Ryan Zimmerman and give the Nats a 3-0 lead.

Zimmerman used his bat to support himself in the second inning when he took the first pitch he saw from Lincecum to right field for a double. The hit scored Danny Espinosa. who had doubled two batters earlier to score Desmond.

The Nats ended Lincecum’s night in the fourth after he walked Steve Lombardozzi and Zimmerman around a Bryce Harper single to load the bases. Morse greeted reliver Nate Schierholtz with a two-run single, scoring Lombardozzi and Harper, and LaRoche followed with a sacrifice fly to bring in Zimmerman.

San Francisco regularly put men on base against Zimmermann, but he regularly pitched out of  jams, using many of his seven strikeouts to kill the Giants’ momentum. Overall, he allowed just two runs, one earned, on seven hits and no walks over six innings.

In the first, after allowing a leadoff single to Gregor Blanco, he fanned Ryan Theriot for the first of three successive outs, and worked his way out of the second and fourth without allowing a run after Pablo Sandoval led off the second with a double and Melky Cabrera did the same in the fourth.

The Giants finally got to Zimmermann in the fifth, loading the bases on Zimmerman’s throwing error and consecutive singles by Brandon Crawford and Schierholtz. Blanco followed with a two-run single to right before Zimmrmann got Theriot to fly out to right, struck out Cabrera and ended the inning by getting Buster Posey to fly out to right.

After a one-hour, 25-minute rain delay, reliever Ryan Mattheus allowed the Giants’ third run on Brandon Belt‘s sac fly to score Joaquin Arias, who had walked. But Harper got the run back in the bottom of the eighth by doubling off Javier Lopez to score Lombardozzi, who had reached on a fielder’s choice.

Mike Gonzalez and Henry Rodriguez, who had just come of the disabled list earlier in the day, combined for a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation.

Champ of the Game: Desmond. He showed why he was the only Washington position player to be named to the All-Star team by continuing to hit for power in clutch situations.

Chump of the Game:  The only Nats batter without a hit was Jesus Flores, but that’s not much of a stigam in this game.

Unsung Hero: Zimmenmann. It’s good to see him finallly getting the key hits and enough runs from hsi teammmates to make his outstanding pitching stand up.

Next Game: July 4, 11:05 a.m. vs. San Francisco at Nationals Park. Madison Bumgarner (10-4, 2.85) vs. Edwin Jackson (4-4, 3.57).