Nationals to take a break after sixth straight loss
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Washington manager Matt Williams figures his team needs a break. He’s giving them one.
The Nationals dropped their sixth straight, losing to World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants 5-0 on Sunday to complete a four-game sweep and matching Washington’s longest skid of the season.
A popular pick before opening day to win the World Series, the Nationals fell below .500 at 58-59.
“It will be good to give the guys a day off, get away from the game,” Williams said. “You have to look at where we are, look at the big picture. If we win some games we jump right back into this.”
The Nationals dropped to 1-6 on their road trip, which concludes with a three-game series at Colorado. Before facing the Rockies on Tuesday, the Nationals will have a free day in Denver.
“We’ll take the day off, regroup, hit the reset button and come back and try to get hot,” Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman said. “We’ve played terrible the last 15 or 16 games and we faced one of the best today. He might be the best in the bigs right now.”
The Nationals were shutout for the third time in six games and the first two were started by Los Angeles Dodgers aces Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw.
Include Bumgarner’s offensive capabilities and he may be the best overall pitcher. He homered and doubled, drove in two runs, struck out 14 and pitched a three-hitter.
“He throws all his pitches from the same arm angle, he works both sides of the plate and he and Buster (Posey) work together to keep you off balance,” Zimmerman said. “He’s not an easy one to get, but we have to find out how to do it.”
Bumgarner (14-6) held the Nats hitless into the fifth inning. The World Series MVP matched his career high for strikeouts while pitching his first shutout of the year and fourth overall in the regular season.
The big lefty permitted just three singles, and no runner made it past second base. Bumgarner improved to 3-5 in 10 starts — including the postseason — against Washington. He had lost his last three in the rivalry and the Giants had dropped Bumgarner’s previous five starts facing the Nationals.
Joe Ross (3-5) struck out the first four Giants and threw three perfect innings before running into trouble in the fourth.
Ross lasted a season-low four-plus innings, allowing four runs and six hits. He walked one and struck out six.
“I was making adjustments the second time through the lineup and I made a few mistakes and things added up on me,” Ross said. “Some of the balls they hit weren’t bad pitches.”
Nationals: OF Bryce Harper was back in the lineup less than 24 hours after fouling a ball off the top of his foot. Harper reported it was still painful after Saturday night’s game but that he was encouraged that X-rays were negative. “I got it pretty good,” Harper said. “It felt terrible at the time.”
Giants: OF Angel Pagan (right patella tendinitis) and 2B Joe Panik (lower back inflammation) will go to Arizona to continue their rehabs when the Giants leave on their road trip. ... RHP Mike Leake is set to come off the disabled list in time to start Tuesday’s game against the Cardinals.
Nationals: Following an off-day, the Nationals hope to salvage their road trip when they begin a three-game series at Colorado on Tuesday.
Giants: RHP Chris Heston (11-7, 3.38) starts Monday night as the Giants open a road trip at NL Central-leading St. Louis and starter Michael Wacha.