The feel-good story of the past week, Dereck Rodriguez, looked more like the minor league free agent he was signed as in his second career start, failing to make it out of the third inning as the San Francisco Giants dropped the middle of the three-game set to the Washington Nationals, 7-5.
A four-run second inning staked the Nationals to a 5-0 lead, and though San Francisco (32-32) would make a game of it, Washington had the superior bullpen on Saturday.
Nick Hundley hit a three-run shot in the third and Buster Posey walked to load the bases with one out in the fourth, chasing Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez from the game. Only one run would score, though, as reliever Justin Miller induced a sacrifice fly from Andrew McCutchen and struck out Evan Longoria to end the threat.
Washington (36-26) would make it a two-run game again in the bottom of the fourth on Bryce Harper’s 19th home run of the season, and after a scoreless fifth from Miller and a clean sixth inning from Sammy Solis, it was Ryan Madison’s turn to try to hold down the fort.
Though Adam Eaton robbed Posey with a running catch to start the inning, back-to-back singles by McCutchen and Longoria set the table for Hundley, and the backup catcher doubled to cut the lead to one and put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position. Madson, though, would strike out Mac Williamson and pinch-hitter Brandon Crawford to end the threat.
Rookie catcher Spencer Kieboom’s RBI double off Cory Gearrin in the bottom of the seventh provided a quick answer, but the Giants would knock on the door once again in the eighth against Brandon Kintzler, who hit Gorkys Hernandez with a pitch and allowed a double to Posey. Closer Sean Doolittle got McCutchen to pop out to end the threat, and though he allowed a two-out single to Williamson in the ninth, he struck out pinch-hitter Hunter Pence to end the game.
Gonzalez allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and walking four. Miller got the win in relief, retiring all five men he faced, including three by strikeout. Rodriguez allowed five runs, with Anthony Rendon singling one home in the first and four scoring in the second on a Trea Turner single, Rendon grounder and Matt Adams two-run double. Ty Blach pitched 3 1/3 in long relief, allowing just the solo homer to Harper.