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Washington Nationals drop series finale with San Francisco Giants, 3-1, settle for split in AT&T

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San Francisco Giants’ righty Matt Cain held the Washington Nationals hitless though five, and the Giants’ pen allowed just one earned run in four innings in what ended up a 3-1 win.

Washington Nationals v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Gio Gonzalez snapped a six-start winless streak in the Washington Nationals’ 13-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds back on June 30th.

In the four outings that followed, the 30-year-old left-hander, who started today in the series finale with the San Francisco Giants in AT&T Park, was (2-2) with a 3.00 ERA, 11 walks (4.13 BB/9), 17 Ks (6.38 K/9) and a .221/.306/.384 line against in 24 innings.

Gonzalez was undefeated over his last three starts before this afternoon’s, with wins over the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers and a no-decision in the Nationals’ loss to the Indians earlier this week in Cleveland, Ohio’s Progressive Field.

He took the loss as the Nationals dropped the finale of the four-game series with the Giants, 3-1, but both runs that scored while he was on the mound came on errors on what should have been inning-ending ground balls...

Conor Gillaspie tripled into the aptly-named “Triples Alley” in right center in AT&T Park to start the Giants’ third, and a one-out walk put runners on the corners, but Gonzalez got what should have been an inning-ending-grounder out of Angel Pagan, only to have Trea Turner make a high toss to second that pulled Danny Espinosa off the bag.

Gillaspie scored on the play to make it 1-0 Giants after three.

Giants’ starter Matt Cain had a no-hitter through five, but his pitch count was elevated in what was just third start back from a stint on the DL, so he was done after throwing 93 pitches in five innings of work...

Cain vs the Nationals: 5.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 Ks, 93 P, 48 S, 4/3 GO/FO.

Madison Bumgarner pinch hit for Cain and, of course, doubled to right field to start the bottom of the fifth, and his pinch runner, fellow starter Jeff Samardzija, scored with two down on a grounder to third when Anthony Rendon bounced a throw to first that Ryan Zimmerman couldn’t pick. 2-0 Giants.

Bryce Harper lined a single to right-center for the Nationals’ first hit of the game with George Kontos on the mound in the sixth.

Harper moved up on a groundout to third by Wilson Ramos and scored on an RBI double to right by Anthony Rendon, 2-1 Giants. Rendon’s 31st two-base hit.

Rendon got deked into staying at second on a line drive to left by Ryan Zimmerman, however, when Giants’ left fielder Mac Williamson lifted his glove like he was going to make a catch before it dropped in for a hit.

Williamson dropped a pop left in the next at bat too, but got a force at third on a frustrated Rendon, who could only wait to see if the tweener was caught.

Danny Espinosa stepped in with two on and went down swinging to end the Nats’ half of the sixth.

Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 6.0 IP. 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 89 P, 53 S, 8/4 GO/FO.

Denard Span tripled to start the Giants’ half of the seventh, with Matt Belisle on the mound, and scored one out later on broken-bat single to right by Angel Pagan, 3-1.

That’s how it ended, as the Nationals settled for a split of the four-game set with the Giants. 3-1 final.

Nationals now 61-44

NATS NOTES:

  • With one game left in July, the San Francisco Giants, who’ve struggled through a 10-13 month, started today’s series finale with a 2.0 game lead in NL West.
  • The Giants’ .435 winning% in July was the third-lowest in the National League.
  • The Giants’ 60-44 record heading into the series finale with the Nationals was the NL’s third-best behind only the Chicago Cubs (62-41) and Washington (61-43).
  • Washington started the series finale in San Francisco with a +114 run differential on the season, behind only the Chicago Cubs (+163).
  • San Francisco’s catchers have a 38.5% CS%, the second-best in the NL, behind only the Milwaukee Brewers’ backstops (41.9%).
  • Giants’ catcher Busty Posey has thrown out 15 of 36 runners (42%), behind only the Brewers’ Martin Maldonado (50%) among NL backstops.
  • Newly-acquired Nationals’ closer Mark Melancon joined the team after saving 30 games for the Pirates this season and posting a 1.51 ERA in 45 appearances.
  • In today’s Mark Melancon-themed “Fun with Arbitrary End Points” segment: Melancon has converted 92.7% of his save opportunities, behind only the Cubs’ Aroldis Chapman (92.8%) and the Orioles’ Zach Britton (92.9%)... since 2014.
  • Jayson Werth extended his career-best on-base streak to 33-straight games with a single in the eighth inning on Saturday.
  • Over the course of his on-base streak, Werth has a .383 OBP, 28 hits and 26 walks.
  • Matt Cain was looking for his 100th win with the Giants, which would put him in some elite company along with Juan Marichal (238), Gaylord Perry (134), Tim Lincecum (108), Kirk Reuter (105) and Mike McCormick (104) as the only pitchers to reach 100 in the San Francisco era of the franchise.
  • In today’s San Francisco-themed “Fun with Arbitrary End Points” segment: The Giants, as a team, are 18 for 122 (.148 AVG) with runners in scoring position... over their past 13 games.

Nationals now 61-44