Taking three out of four games from the San Francisco Giants, who were 22-9 at home in AT&T Park this season when the Washington Nationals came to town and 23-12 when they left, was impressive, but Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters after Thursday afternoon's loss that things fell apart in the series finale.
"Against these guys, especially the way they've been playing," Williams said, "it's gratifying to play as well as we did the first three. Today it kind of unraveled on us, but three out of four from these guys is pretty good."
The Nationals went from 13-14 on the road before they got to San Francisco to 16-15 when they left for St. Louis for the start of a three-game set in Busch Stadium.
Washington's 25-year-old right-hander, Blake Treinen, saw his ERA rise from 1.78 to 2.08 and his FIP go up from 2.85 to 3.05 after five innings on the mound in which he gave up five hits, three walks and two earned runs.
The three walks he issued were more than Nationals' starter, Treinen included, allowed in the last nine games.
Two of the three came in the fourth when he loaded the bases by giving up a single by Michael Morse and back-to-back free passes to Tyler Colvin and Brandon Crawford.
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Treinen managed to escape the bases-loaded no-out jam he created in what was then a 2-1 game in the Giants' favor, striking Ehire Adrianza out with a diving 2-2 changeup and getting a double play grounder from the opposing pitcher, Tim Hudson, to keep it close at 2-1 after four innings.
"I had trouble commanding my fastball today," he said after the game. "Threw some changeups in big situations. I'm just happy to get out of that mess of an inning I got us in [in the fourth]. If I command my fastball a little better, maybe I go deeper in the game like a starter should. I just have to execute pitches better. Next time I'll be better at it."
"He was fine," Williams said. "Just a little bit all over the place, and we had some opportunities to get back in it, in the middle innings, but it didn't happen for us today. But it's been happening pretty regular for us. So today, good pitching on their part. They made some plays, we just couldn't climb back in."
The Nationals' best chance to tie it up came in the top of the fifth, after Treinen completed a 24-pitch fourth that left him at 68 pitches overall.
Today's second baseman, Kevin Frandsen, singled to start the Nats' fifth, and went first-to-third on another single by Jose Lobaton. Treinen tried to get down a bunt to move his catcher over, but struck out trying to do so with two strikes and Denard Span followed with a double play grounder that let Hudson off the hook.
"Little different game maybe if he gets that down," Williams suggested.
"The double play ball right after that... if [Treinen] gets that down then it may be a different game for us, but he's working hard at all aspects of the game and he's done well."
"He's been doing anything we've asked him to do whether it's one inning out of the bullpen, multiple innings out of the bullpen, starting," Williams continued.
"I still feel like he's a young starter. Changeup is developing. Breaking ball is developing. He's got a good sinker. So for him to get deeper and deeper into games is important, but I think he's done well."
Even when Treinen isn't particularly sharp, however, he's able to have success because of the action he gets with his sinker.
"Power sinker will do that," Williams said after the righty induced 10 groundouts from the 21 batters he faced.
"That's his go-to pitch. It's mid-90s and sinking and he's one pitch away from a double play ball all the time. So that's good for him and that's one of his weapons he can use."
"The development of the other pitches is key for him too though and he's going to continue work on it."
The 2-2 change he threw to get the bases loaded strikeout in the fourth was one of the best pitches he three all day.
"The strikeout was huge for me," Treinen said. "And then obviously you're one pitch away and just that mindset of going after him and trying to get a ground ball. And with Hudson being up, being a pitcher, he's aggressive and he's a good hitter too, but I like my odds going at him and getting a ground ball and it worked out to our advantage."
Treinen gave up a one-out single in his final inning of work in the fifth, but another double play grounder got him through the inning.
The Giants scored two runs on Craig Stammen in the sixth, then added three more before it was over to take the 7-1 win.
After the Nationals wrapped up the series in AT&T Park and embarked on the final leg of their three-city, 10-game road trip, 28-year-old left-hander Gio Gonzalez made his second rehab start with the Potomac Nationals, walking four and striking out seven in four innings of work.
If Gonzalez is able to return from his DL stint next time out, and he said he was ready to return to the Nats' rotation tonight, Treinen may be pitching at Triple-A or out of the bullpen next time he takes the mound.
Asked what, if anything, he learned in his latest stint in the majors, the first-year major leaguer said he convinced himself he can pitch at this level.
"I'm confident that I can compete at this level," he said, "but I still need to improve with my fastball command. Right now it's not necessarily been where I'd like it to be."