The Nationals wasted a great start by Gio Gonzalez by getting nothing going offensively and the Cleveland Indians walked off with a 2-1 win in the first game of a three game set.
The winning run came in the bottom of the ninth inning. Fernando Abad got Mike Aviles to line out for the first out of the inning but then ran into trouble. Drew Stubbs singled to right and then advanced to third on a perfectly executed hit and run with Micheal Bourn.
With the winning run just 90 feet away and only one out the Nats gave up the double play opportunity when Bourn swiped second. They elected to pitch to left-handed hitter Jason Kipnis anyways to get the lefty-lefty match-up with Abad. Kipnis hit weakly to first, but that was enough for the speedy Stubbs who slid in under Kurt Suzuki’s tag to end the game.
Before the ninth the Nats were locked in a classic pitcher’s duel. Nats starter Gio Gonzalez was masterful for seven innings, with only his high pitch count, he threw 127 pitches in the game, holding him back. Gonzalez gave up just one run on three hits and four walks, with eight strikeouts. The lone run coming on a Ryan Raburn home run, his eighth on the season.
But the Nats offense couldn’t support their starter. Hot hitting call-up Anthony Rendon got the day off, while Chad Tracy played at third with Ryan Zimmerman DHing in the AL park. Indians starter Justin Masterson dominated the Nats bats for seven innings of his own, striking out 10 while also walking four and giving up a run.
The Nats run came in the third inning when Kurt Suzuki scored on a wild pitch by Masterson. They never seriously threatened to score again for the rest of the game.
It was in a bullpen battle in the latter innings where the Nats really came up short though. Indians relievers Cody Allen and Joe Smith combined for two perfect innings, while the Nationals’ duo of Tyler Clippard and Fernando Abad struggled.
Clippard loaded the bases with just one out after he walked Carlos Santna after getting him to an 0-2 count. Clippard managed to escape without giving up the lead though by getting Mark Reynolds to strike out and Michael Brantly to line out to Denard Span.
But Abad wasn’t so lucky and the Nats saw themselves drop the first game of a series for the third straight series and fall back to .500 at 33-33. They will look to get back on track tomorrow with ace Jordan Zimmermann on the mound versus the revitalized Scott Kazmir.