Nationals: Bullpen Ruins Strong Start By Gio In Loss To Indians

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Jul 26, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon (58) walks off the field during a pitching change in the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 26, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon (58) walks off the field during a pitching change in the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /
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A walk-off single by Francisco Lindor in the ninth inning led to a disappointing loss for the Washington Nationals.

Gio Gonzalez pitched a solid game on the mound for his club. However, the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead as the Washington Nationals lost a heartbreaking game to the Cleveland Indians, 7-6 at Progressive Field

Daniel Murphy smoked a ball past third baseman Juan Uribe in the opening frame to drive in Trea Turner and give the Nationals an early 1-0 lead. Uribe was given an error on the play, but Murphy was credited with his 74th RBI of the year. Later in the inning, Jayson Werth hit an RBI double which extended their lead to 2-0.

Rajai Davis led off the bottom of the first with a walk and scored on a passed ball, to cut the deficit to 2-1. Carlos Santana helped tie the score at 2-2 with a sacrifice fly to left.

In the top of the fourth, after a leadoff double by Wilson RamosAnthony Rendon crushed his 12th home run of the season to center field, which put the Nationals back in front, 4-2. Two innings, Ramos led off the sixth inning with his 15th home run of 2016 to push the Nationals lead to 5-2. Ramos finished the game with two extra-base hits.

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Danny Salazar didn’t have his best stuff for the Indians, and it led to an abbreviated outing by him. The right-hander tossed four innings, yielded four runs (three earned), allowed four hits, issued two walks, fanned five batters and surrendered a home run on a season-low 85 pitches (54 strikes) in a no-decision. This was the shortest start of the season for Salazar and just the third time he gave up four or more runs.

Meanwhile, Gio Gonzalez was brilliant in this start. He threw 6.1 innings, allowing three runs (two earned), giving up four hits, striking out four and walking two batters on 105 pitches (68 strikes) in a no-decision.This was the fourth consecutive start he allowed three runs or less.

Blake Treinen relieved Gonzalez with one out in the seventh and gave up a single to Lonnie Chisenhall, which allowed the Indians to trim the deficit to 5-3. That third run ended up being charged to Gonzalez. Jason Kipnis scored in the eighth inning, as Mike Napoli grounded into a double play to narrow the gap to 5-4 against reliever Felipe Rivero.

The Washington Nationals would tack on an insurance run in the top of the ninth when Turner ended up scoring on an error by Napoli. But, Bryce Harper and Murphy both grounded out with the bases loaded and ruined a chance to break the game open.

With Jonathan Papelbon in to try to close it out in the ninth, Tyler Naquin laced a double to center field in the bottom of the ninth to trim the lead to 6-5. Then, a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Zimmerman allowed Naquin to score and tie the game at six. Papelbon was ineffective in trying to convert the save and was lifted for Oliver Perez with the bases loaded and no one out.

Next: Nationals-Indians Preview (7/26-7/27)

Perez retired the first batter he faced, but he surrendered a walk-off single to Francisco Lindor and the Indians won 7-6. Bryan Shaw picked up his second win of the year for the Indians.

Next Game: The Washington Nationals (58-42) will continue the series tomorrow with Stephen Strasburg (13-1, 2.83 ERA) on the mound. The Cleveland Indians (57-41) will have Carlos Carrasco (7-3, 2.31 ERA) pitching for them. You can watch the game at 12:10 p.m. ET on MASN.

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