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Washington Nationals drop third straight, 4-2 to San Francisco Giants in opener in AT&T...

After dropping two of three in Los Angeles, the Washington Nationals lost their third straight in the opener with the San Francisco Giants in AT&T Park...

MLB: Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco’s starter Chris Stratton held the Washington Nationals to two runs on four hits in 6 23 innings on the mound in AT&T Park, and the Giants took the series opener by a score of 4-2, putting three runs up on lefty Gio Gonzalez, two while he was still on the mound, and one earned run after he left the game, when Shawn Kelley gave up a two-run home run on the first pitch he threw to Mac Williamson after taking over in the sixth. Kelley left the game with an apparent injury one batter later...

Gio vs SFG: Coming off a 5 13-inning, 97-pitch outing against the New York Mets last week in Citi Field, Gio Gonzalez took the mound tonight in AT&T Park to face a Giants’ team that he was (4-2) against in eight career starts as a National, with a 2.87 ERA in 47 innings since 2012, when he was traded from Oakland to Washington.

Gonzalez was up to 48 pitches after he retired the Giants in order in a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 third a half-inning after the Nationals jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Howie Kendrick sac fly to right, which followed a Trea Turner triple.

One inning later it was tied, however, with Evan Longoria going first-to-third on a double to right by Brandon Belt, and scoring on a grounder to third by Mac Williamson when a throw to the plate by Wilmer Difo was too wide for Matt Wieters to make a play, 1-1.

It was 2-1 Giants in the fifth after Andrew McCutchen doubled to left-center on a 2-1 change from Gonzalez, and scored on an RBI single to right by Buster Posey in the next at bat.

Gonzalez walked Brandon Belt to start the bottom of the sixth, and Davey Martinez went to the bullpen with his starter up to 94 pitches and three walks on the night...

Shawn Kelley took over on the mound for Gonzalez, and gave up a two-run home run on the first pitch he threw, a fastball up in the zone to Mac Williamson that ended up in the seats in center field, 4-1 Giants.

Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 94 P, 58 S, 7/3 GO/FO.

Stratton vs Washington: Giants’ right-hander Chris Stratton struck out 10 in 6 23 scoreless innings last August in the nation’s capital in his lone start against the Nationals before this evening’s matchup in San Francisco.

He took the mound tonight in AT&T Park with a 2.22 ERA on the year, seven walks, 19 Ks, and a .179/.250/.262 line against in four starts and 24 13 IP in his third major league season.

Stratton tossed two scoreless on 24 pitches to start the second outing of his career against the Nationals, but a one-out triple to left by Trea Turner, and a sac fly to right field by Howie Kendrick put the Nationals up 1-0 in the third.

Back-to-back errors in the sixth set the Nationals up with an opportunity to tie it up after the Giants had jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

Evan Longoria dropped a Bryce Harper pop to left before Harper took his MLB-leading 29th walk of the young season, and Andrew McCutchen dropped a catchable fly to right by Ryan Zimmerman in the next at bat, but Stratton got Matt Adams swinging and got Matt Wieters to fly to center to escape the second and third, one-out jam.

Stratton was up to 93 pitches after he issued a leadoff walk to Michael A. Taylor in the first at bat of the seventh, and a stolen base and two fly balls later, the runner scored to make it a two-run game, 4-2 Giants. Stratton’s 109th pitch of the night, a hanging curve Trea Turner hit through the left side, was his last.

Chris Stratton’s Line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 109 P, 74 S, 9/5 GO/FO.

Harper returns to scene of HBP crime: Heading into this week’s three-game set with the Giants, Bryce Harper had the second-most home runs in the majors (8), the most walks (27) among all major league hitters, the second-most runs scored amongst National League hitters (20), and second-most RBIs (19) early this season.

Harper was back in AT&T Park, where he and Giants’ righty Hunter Strickland got into a brawl at the mound last May after the reliever beaned the Nationals’ outfielder over two years after he homered off and jawed at Strickland during the NLDS matchup in 2014.

It received much less coverage than the initial altercation, but Strickland did tell KNBR Tonight hosts Kevin Frandsen and Drew Hoffar this offseason that it was a mistake on his part.

“I think that [we] as human beings, we make mistakes,” Strickland explained, when asked if grudges like the one he clearly had against Harper motivated him on the mound.

“I’ll be the first to own up to that being one of my mistakes. So there are some regrets in certain circumstances that I’ve done, but like I said, we’re human beings, we’re out there, we’re competing, and it’s just kind of one of those things you have to learn from.”

In his second game in the Giants’ home after that fracas, Harper grounded into a force the first time up, then worked an eight-pitch walk out of Giants’ righty Chris Stratton in at bat No. 2, and took his second free pass of the game and 29th of the season with one down in the top of the sixth.

Facing Tony Watson in the eighth, Harper sent an opposite field fly to deep left, but it died on the track for a long out that left him 0 for 2 with two walks.

MAT in AT&T: Michael A. Taylor went 9 for 54 (.167/.196/.185) with a double, two walks in 18 Ks over the first 15 games and 56 plate appearances this season, but he’s gone 8 for 22 in the last seven game (.364/.462/.682) with four doubles, a home run, four walks, and 10 Ks over the last seven games heading into tonight’s series opener against the Giants in AT&T Park.

Taylor went 3 for 3 with a walk last night in LA, homering for the first time in 2018 in the series finale with the Dodgers.

He was 0 for 2 with a K tonight against Giants’ righty Chris Stratton, when he walked to start the seventh, and stole his 9th base of the year, took third on a fly to center, and scored on a sac fly to right by Andrew Stevenson, making it a two-run game, 4-2 San Francisco.

Taylor got one last at bat against Giants’ closer Hunter Strickland in the ninth, and worked a five-pitch walk to end the night 0 for 2 with two walks.

BULLPEN ACTION: Sammy Solis took over on the mound for Kelley, who suffered some kind of injury that led to a mid-at-bat exit, and got the Nats out of the sixth inning with the score still 4-1 Giants.

Trevor Gott got the seventh, and worked around a two-out double by Buster Posey for a scoreless, 12-pitch frame.

Tony Watson worked around a single in an 18-pitch top of the eighth. Carlos Torres worked the bottom of the inning for the Nationals, retiring the side in order on nine pitches.

Hunter Strickland came on for the save opportunity in the ninth... and walked the first batter he faced, Michael A. Taylor.

One out later, with Taylor on second, Strickland fell behind 3-0 on Moises Sierra, got to 3-2, and struck Sierra out with a full-count slider, then struck Trea Turner out to end the first of three for the Nationals in AT&T.


Final Score: 4-2 Giants

Nationals now 10-13