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Nationals drop fourth straight, 6-4 to D-Backs in series opener in D.C.

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Washington Nationals' starter Doug Fister was up in the zone again and hit hard again, giving up three home runs and five runs total in six innings as the Arizona Diamondbacks bashed their way to a 6-4 win in the series opener.

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5. Has Fister found his sink?: After giving up eighteen hits and eight earned runs in 10 innings in back-to-back losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates, Doug Fister bounced back to some extent in his last outing in a 7-2 win over the Miami Marlins.

Washington's 31-year-old, sinker-balling righty gave up four hits, a walk and two runs, both earned, in six innings against the Marlins before he handed it over to the bullpen.

"He worked ahead. Good slider, good cutter today against the lefties. Better changeup. I thought his tempo was good." -Matt Williams on Doug Fister vs the D-Backs

"He worked ahead," Nationals' skipper Matt Williams told reporters in Miami. "Good slider, good cutter today against the lefties. Better changeup. I thought his tempo was good."

"I think if you ask him, I think he felt more comfortable with his mechanics with getting the ball where he wanted to get it today," Williams said.

With the win, which was Fister's first in over a month, he improved to (4-6) after 14 starts with a 4.39 ERA, a 4.36 FIP, 18 walks (2.03 BB/9) and 42 Ks (4.73 K/9) in 80 IP, over which opposing hitters have put up a .291/.342/.452 line.

"Tonight was much better," Fister said.

"More consistent. Still left a few balls up in the middle of the plate, but kept it to a fairly minimum number to keep it within reason. It's another stride in the right direction and we're continuing to work on it."

Fister was making his eighth start of the season at home tonight, after going (2-2) with a 3.80 ERA, a 3.97 FIP, 10 walks (2.11 BB/9) and 20 Ks (4.22 K/9) in 42 ⅔ innings pitched.

The outing began with a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 first in which he induced two groundouts. Fister gave up a ground ball single to center by David Peralta in the first at bat of the second inning, but Wellington Castillo grounded into a 4-6-3 DP in the next AB and Jake Lamb fouled strike three into Wilson Ramos' mitt to end a 12-pitch second at 22 total after two.

Nick Ahmed ripped into a 3-1 sinker up in the zone from Doug Fister and hit a line drive to left field that landed in the visitor's bullpen. 1-0 D-Backs. Ahmed's seventh. That was it for Arizona in the third, however. 19-pitch frame. 41 total after three.

A.J. Pollock singled to center to start the D-Backs' fourth and one out later, David Peralta hit a first-pitch change out to left-center field for a two-run blast that made it a 3-0 game. An 0-1 sinker to Wellington Castillo in the next at bat was belt-high inside and it ended up in the Red Porch seats too. 4-0 Diamondbacks. 22-pitch frame, 63 total after four.

Nick Ahmed singled to start the top of the fifth and Zack Godley bunted him over/gave up an out. Ender Inciarte hit a one-out single to right field, sending Ahmed to third, before A.J. Pollock's sac fly to right brought him in for a 5-0 lead. 24-pitch frame, 87 total.

Jake Lamb singled with two down in the sixth on Fister's 104th pitch, but Aaron Hill K'd swinging to end a 24-pitch frame that left Fister at 111 pitches.

Doug Fister's Line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 3 HRs, 111 P, 72 S, 5/3 GO/FO.

4. Godley Send: Acquired from the Chicago Cubs along with minor league right-hander Jeferson Mejia in a trade for veteran catcher Miguel Montero this past December, 25-year-old right-hander Zack Godley made his MLB debut for the D-Backs on July 23rd after starting the season at High-A in Arizona's system and making three starts at Double-A, over which he was (9-4) with a 2.62 ERA in 89 ⅓ innings pitched.

He debuted with six scoreless innings against the Milwaukee Brewers in which he gave up four hits and struck out seven batters in what ended up an 8-3 win.

"That was one thing -- the umpire Brian O'Nora came over and said, 'This guy has got really good stuff.' And that showed." -Chip Hale on Zack Godley's stuff in his MLB debut

"He just did a beautiful job of following the game plan we gave him," D-Backs' skipper Chip Hale joked after the game.

"Obviously he has really good stuff," Hale said. "That was one thing -- the umpire Brian O'Nora came over and said, 'This guy has got really good stuff.' And that showed. You could see at times it looked like Oscar [Hernandez] was even having a hard time catching some of the cutters and fastballs he was throwing. I loved the intensity, and that's what we said the other day when we called him up, that that's one of the things that we liked about him."

Godley gave up seven hits, three walks and three runs in six innings in his second start, earning the decision in an 8-4 win over the Seattle Mariners.

Through two starts before tonight's the righty put up a 2.25 ERA, a 4.42 FIP, three walks (2.25 BB/9) and 11 Ks (8.25 K/9) in 12 innings, working with a 90-92 mph cutter, 92 mph sinker, 91-93 mph four-seamer and a low-80s change.

His first career start against the Nationals began with seven-pitch, 1-2-3 first. Godley struck out the side in a 15-pitch second that left him at 22 total after two.

A seven-pitch, 1-2-3 third left the D-Backs' starter at 29 pitches total, with nine straight outs to start the game.

Yunel Escobar singled to start the Nationals' fourth and break up Godley's nascent no-hit bid, but he was thrown out at second on a 9-6 putout on a line drive to right that Ender Inciarte fielded before firing a strike to second that beat Escobar to the bag. One down.

Bryce Harper singled to left in the next at bat and one out later Clint Robinson walked with two down to load'em up for Ian Desmond, who got to a 3-1 count and grounded out to end a 23-pitch fourth. 52 total.

Michael Taylor lined a one-out single to left in the home-half of the fifth, but Doug Fister bunted into a double play in the next at bat. Both outs were challenged by the Nats, however, and the call at second was reversed. Taylor stayed at second with two down and Yunel Escobar up, but a backwards K ended the threat. 19-pitch frame. 71 total.

Godley hit Anthony Rendon with the first pitch in the Nats' sixth, but Bryce Harper grounded into a DP in the next at bat. 3-6-3. Ryan Zimmerman walked with two down, but Clint Robinson grounded into a force at second to end a 12-pitch frame. 83 pitches total for Godley.

• Zack Godley's Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 83 P, 48 S, 6/2 GO/FO.

3. Random Game Notes: The D-Backs came to the nation's capital with wins in six of their last eight games and seven in their last ten.

• Diamondbacks' outfielder A.J. Pollock started the series having reached base in 25 of his last 26 games, going 33 for 102 over that stretch, for a .324 AVG.

• D-Backs' slugger Paul Goldschmidt has a .329 AVG in 21 games against the Nats in his career, with a doubles, a triple and a home run.

• Goldschmidt and Nats' slugger Bryce Harper are 1st or 2nd in the NL in AVG (Goldschmidt - .342; Harper - .331), OBP (Goldschmidt .458; Harper .456) and SLG (Goldschmidt - .592; Harper - .672).

• Arizona's closer, Brad Ziegler, has converted 16-straight save opportunities.

• The Nationals start their seven-game homestand against Arizona and Colorado with a 28-19 record at home in Nationals Park.

• For today's "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: The Nats are 12-5 at home since June 19th, with the second-highest home winning percentage in the majors over that stretch.

Drew Storen didn't pitch in the three-game series in New York... Jonathan Papelbon didn't either.

• The Nationals took two of three from the D-Backs in Chase Field earlier this season, and they finish their second series this week in D.C.

Michael Taylor went 0 for 12 with nine Ks in the series in NY.

2. Turning Point(s): Doug Fister was up in the zone with his sinker again tonight, and a particularly flat one on a 3-1 pitch to Nick Ahmed ended up in the left field bullpen for a solo home run with one down in the third as the D-Backs took an early 1-0 lead in the series opener in D.C.

• A first-pitch change to David Peralta and an 0-1 sinker up in the zone to Wellington Castillo in the fourth both ended up sailing out to left-center for the second and third home runs of the game off Fister as the Diamondbacks jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

1. The Wrap-Up: Tanner Roark took over for the Nationals in the seventh, and threw a scoreless eight-pitch frame.

Addison Reed retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the seventh inning. Still 5-0 Arizona.

Drew Storen threw a quick, seven-pitch, 1-2-3 eighth.

Reed retired the side in order in the bottom of the eighth.

Jonathan Papelbon gave up a solo home run by Jake Lamb with one down in his first appearance in Nationals Park. 6-0.

Daniel Hudson came on in the ninth and gave up a bomb of a home run to left by Ryan Zimmerman. 6-1.

Clint Robinson and Ian Desmond singled in back-to-back at bats to put two on in front of Wilson Ramos, who singled to center to make it 6-2. Michael Taylor broke his hitless streak with a two-run double in the at bat that followed, 6-4.

Brad Ziegler came on for the save vs pinch hitter Jayson Werth. Werth grounded weakly to second for out no.2.

Yunel Escobar stepped in with two out and sent a fly to left to end it. Ballgame.

Nationals now 54-50