Aug 9, 2015, 5:01 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals had a chance to salvage their homestand with a series win against Colorado, but Carlos Gonzalez and his Rockies teammates had other plans on Sunday afternoon.
The Rockies got to Max Scherzer to the tune of three home runs, all solo shots. Gonzalez had two of them and Daniel Descalso hit the other. Gonzalez, who killed the Nats this weekend, has 14 homers in his last 27 games.
The Nationals had three homers of their own, all off Rockies starter Yohan Flande, including two by Ryan Zimmerman. Zim and Jayson Werth hit back-to-back shots in the bottom of the third. Werth also scored another run on a fielder’s choice groundball in the sixth.
But Drew Storen couldn’t get the job done for the second straight outing. He took the loss on Friday night after allowing four runs and this time he wasn’t much better. Storen began the eighth inning by allowing a single to Ben Paulsen and then he hit catcher Michael McKenry with a pitch. The runners were moved over on a sac bunt and D.J. LeMahieu later hit a two-RBI single to left field for the go-ahead scores.
Storen has taken the loss in consecutive appearances. Prior to this series he had 14 consecutive scoreless outings. He gave up six earned runs in the series after allowing just seven all season before Friday.
The Nats made it interesting in the ninth inning by loading the bases with one out, but Werth struck out and Ian Desmond ground out to finish off the loss.
The Nats fell by the score of 6-4 to close their homsetand 3-4 with a tough stretch up ahead beginning with the Dodgers. They are now 57-53 on the season. The Mets also lost on Sunday, however, so the Nationals remain 1 1/2 games out of first.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Zimmerman has been on a tear recently and that continued on Sunday afternoon. He had his first multi-homer game since Sept. 7, 2013 (at the Marlins) and the 13th of his career. Zimmerman’s first home run came in the second inning and his second in the third. The first went to straightaway center field and landed on the lawn. The second went to right-center field over the out-of-town scoreboard. Rockies manager Walt Weiss pulled Flande before Zimmerman’s third at-bat, which was probably a smart decision.
Zimmerman now has nine homers on the season and has driven in runs in seven consecutive games. He has the team record of nine straight games with at least one RBI. Zimmerman also has at least one extra-base hit in four straight outings.
The Nats have been waiting for some combination of their recently injured trio of Zim, Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon to get going. All three have shown flashes, but Zimmerman appears to have found his swing and returned to midseason form.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Scherzer had his moments on Sunday, but overall put in a rough outing thanks to several costly mistakes. He gave up three home runs, two of them to Gonzalez who finished with three in the series. His first one on Sunday smacked off a metal screen in the Nats’ bullpen. The second landed in the second deck in right field.
Scherzer has had issues with home runs in recent games, having allowed nine in his last seven outings. He has now given up 16 on the year after allowing 18 in each of the last two seasons.
Scherzer, as mentioned above, did pitch well at times. He was efficient with his pitch count and finished with 10 strikeouts. Scherzer has had 10 or more Ks in seven games now this season. The highlight came in the top of the third when Scherzer worked his way out of a jam by striking out Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado in consecutive at-bats for the second and third outs. Gonzalez whiffed on a 97 mile per hour fastball and Arenado went down swinging at 98.
The Nats took Scherzer out after six innings and just 81 pitches, but he had allowed four runs and was giving up plenty of hard contact.
KEY STAT: Zimmerman and Werth’s homers in the bottom of the third inning were the first back-to-back home runs the Nationals have hit this season.
UP NEXT: The Nationals go on their longest West Coast road trip of the season. They will start in L.A. against the Dodgers, then play four at the San Francisco Giants. After that they will see the Rockies again at Coors Field. Monday night’s 10:10 p.m. start will pit Gio Gonzalez (8-4, 3.75) against lefty Brett Anderson (6-6, 3.06).
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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