Taylor’s three-run blast jolts lineup back to life (Nats lose 4-3)

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals were doing absolutely nothing at the plate for 3 2/3 innings tonight against Ty Blach. Of the first 12 batters who came to the plate against the Giants lefty, only one (Howie Kendrick) hit a ball out of the infield.

And then Ryan Zimmerman drew a two-out walk in the fourth, and Mois├ęs Sierra followed with a single through the right side. And then Michael A. Taylor delivered the big blast this team has so desperately needed for days.

Thumbnail image for Michael A. Taylor home run swing grey NEW.jpgTaylor’s three-run, opposite-field homer off Blach was a much-needed jolt for a Nationals lineup that had scored only six runs in its previous 32 innings out here on the West Coast. And it brought them back from a three-run deficit to tie the Giants in the fourth, 3-3.

Tanner Roark had dug his team into that early hole, loading the bases in the bottom of the first and letting a run score on an 0-2 curveball in the dirt. Two innings later, Brandon Belt - who hit a far more meaningful homer off Roark in the 18th inning of Game 2 of the 2014 National League Division Series - launched a two-run blast to right off the right-hander.

Roark entered with a 6-0 record and 2.02 ERA in seven career regular-season appearances (four starts) against San Francisco, but he has struggled to command his curveball and put away hitters so far tonight.

Thanks to Taylor’s blast - only the seventh home run he’s ever hit to right field - Roark has new life and a chance to turn this game around in the Nationals’ favor.

Update: No inning has been as critical to the Nats lately as the sixth. It’s the inning in which either the starter hasn’t been able to finish his night on a high note or a middle reliever hasn’t been able to do his job. And the sixth inning struck again tonight. Roark took the mound at 95 pitches in a tie game, needing to get three more outs and get the game to the big three in the back of the bullpen. But after recording two quick outs, he hung a first-pitch changeup to Mac Williamson, who launched it to straightaway center field. Just like that, the Nats trail 4-3 and now need to rally against the Giants bullpen.

Update II: The Nats gave themselves a chance in the eighth when Kendrick ripped a one-out double to the gap in left-center off Sam Dyson. Unfortunately, that simply allowed Bruce Bochy to intentionally walk Bryce Harper and pitch to Zimmerman ... who grounded into a double play on the first pitch he saw to kill that rally. The Nats went down quietly in the ninth and so they have fallen 4-3 and dropped their fourth straight game to fall to 10-14 on the season. They’ll try to salvage the series with Max Scherzer on the mound Wednesday afternoon.

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