WASHINGTON -- Maybe jinxes in sports don't exist. Maybe repeated dominance at a single venue involves nothing but sustaining control, as the Giants did Friday night in their 9-5 victory over the Nationals.The Giants had dropped 17 of 22 games here at Nationals Park since the beginning of the 2011
WASHINGTON -- Maybe jinxes in sports don't exist. Maybe repeated dominance at a single venue involves nothing but sustaining control, as the Giants did Friday night in their 9-5 victory over the Nationals.
The Giants had dropped 17 of 22 games here at Nationals Park since the beginning of the 2011 season. However, they opened this series and their three-city, 10-game trip as if all that losing was a mirage.
As a result, the Giants (32-31) climbed back above .500 for the first time since they were 19-18 on May 9.
San Francisco rained a hail of 15 hits, with six players collecting two hits apiece. Andrew McCutchen's first-inning home run off Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who left the game with right shoulder inflammation after two innings, established the offensive rhythm for the Giants, who built a 5-0 lead before the Nats scored.
Gorkys Hernandez hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning. The irrepressible Alen Hanson singled and tripled in his first two at-bats. Brandon Crawford lashed a fifth-inning RBI double that helped San Francisco fend off the Nationals, who narrowed the difference to 6-5 in the sixth. The Giants pulled away in the seventh with three runs, talllying the final one on a Hunter Pence single.
So perhaps all this happened because the Giants won six of their previous seven games entering Friday.
"We carried the momentum of what we've been doing at home [onto] the road," McCutchen said.
As a newcomer to the Giants, McCutchen knew nothing of the team's struggles here.
"That's just the way it goes sometimes," he said. "The game is so unpredictable. That's why it is the way that it is. That's why it's so special. Any given day can be your day. That's why I don't believe in jinxes and all that stuff."
McCutchen backed up his belief with his performance. He entered the game 3-for-22 (.136) lifetime off Strasburg before homering.
Giants starter Andrew Suarez looked impressive at the outset, striking out four of the first eight hitters he faced. As dominant as he frequently looked, however, Suarez didn't even qualify for the decision due to lasting only 4 1/3 innings.
Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, "He looked like he lost the feel of his secondary pitches."
The left-hander said he lost his feel, period.
"I just left a few pitches up," he said. "I was rushing a little bit."
That became apparent in the fifth inning, when Suarez faced the formidable Bryce Harper with the bases loaded, one out and the Giants nursing a 6-2 lead. Suarez actually hung a breaking pitch to Harper, who grounded it into right field for a two-run single.
Reyes Moronta (2-0) finished the inning without incident.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Moronta maintained the effectiveness he has displayed all season. He has recorded a 1.38 ERA in his past 15 outings, with 19 strikeouts in 13 innings during that span. His 1.57 ERA overall ERA ranks in the top 10 among National League relievers. Opponents are 2-for-their-last-23 (.087) off him with nine strikeouts.
McCutchen might be warming up. He has homered in three of his past five games after totaling three in his previous 55 games.
Expect third baseman Evan Longoria and left fielder Mac Williamson to return to the Giants' lineup for Saturday's 9:05 a.m. PT rematch with the Nationals. Bochy figured that infusing the lineup with some fresh personnel would be a good idea, with a day game following a night game. Right-hander Dereck Rodriguez is scheduled to make his third big league appearance and second start for the Giants. The Nationals will counter with left-hander Giovany Gonzalez, who's 5-5 with a 3.12 ERA.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.