Runs against Max Scherzer are generally few and far between, but on Sunday, one big swing of the bat was enough for the San Francisco Giants, who beat Scherzer and his Washington Nationals 2-0 to take the weekend set and win the season series.
Brandon Crawford’s two-run homer in the top of the fourth accounted for the only runs of the game as Washington (36-27) mustered just three hits against five Giants pitchers.
The Nationals didn’t pick up an extra-base hit, never had a man on third base with less than two outs, grounded into a double play, had a runner picked off and had another caught stealing.
Crawford was responsible for four of San Francisco’s five hits, as he doubled twice and singled for a 4-for-4 performance. Austin Jackson had the Giants’ only other hit.
San Francisco starter Derek Holland needed 95 pitches to get through five innings, but emerged scoreless and managed to hand the game to the bullpen with the lead.
The combination of Mark Melancon, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson and Hunter Strickland shut the hosts down over the final four frames, allowing just a pair of walks en route to recording those final 12 outs. Strickland finally got his first showdown with Bryce Harper since last year’s famous hit-by-pitch and brawl, and Harper grounded out against him to lead off the ninth. Strickland went on to get a groundout from Anthony Rendon, and struck out pinch-hitter Matt Adams to end the game.
As for Scherzer, he struck out nine over seven frames, but he was still burdened with his second loss of the season. One of the three walks he threw came back to bite him, as Pablo Sandoval led off the fourth by earning a free pass, setting up Crawford’s homer on a 2-2 pitch. Matt Grace and Shawn Kelley combined to pitch the eighth for the Nationals, and Trevor Gott took care of a scoreless ninth.
After dropping five of six head-to-head meetings with the Nationals last year, San Francisco (33-32) won four of this year’s six contests and earned a series win at Nationals Park for the first time since 2010. With seven of the next 10 games against the Miami Marlins, the Giants now have an opportunity to make a move in the crowded NL West. They’ll open Monday’s four-game set in South Florida with Madison Bumgarner on the mound for his second start of the season; he’ll be opposed by left-hander Wei-Yin Chen.