Behind Corbin’s gem, Nats take series from Giants

Patrick Corbin had pitched well every time he had taken the mound wearing a Nationals uniform. Now the prized lefty finally has his first win in Washington.

With 7 2/3 innings of two-hit ball, Corbin put his team in prime position to defeat the Giants today. And thanks to some early offense and a late escape act by the bullpen, the Nationals walked off the field with a 4-2 win and another series victory.

Corbin-Throws-White-sidebar.jpgAt one point, Corbin (1-0) looked poised to go the distance and spare Davey Martinez from even needing to consider signaling to his beleaguered bullpen. But with his pitch count up to 107 and the Giants having finally broken through for their first run with two outs in the eighth, Martinez made the walk to the mound, called for Kyle Barraclough and let Corbin walk back to the dugout to a standing ovation from the crowd of 26,089.

Barraclough, who hadn’t successfully stranded any of the nine baserunners he inherited the last two series, finally got off that schneid thanks to a nice play by Ryan Zimmerman on Buster Posey’s sharp grounder to first.

And when Sean Doolittle - returning to the mound after throwing 18 pitches to bail out his bullpen mates Wednesday night - escaped a ninth-inning jam that included the first run he’s surrendered this year, the Nationals had themselves their third series win in four tries and a 9-8 record before heading out on a geographically odd road trip to Miami and Colorado.

Not that a matchup on paper ever holds 100 percent true in real life, but today’s - Corbin facing a weak Giants lineup, the Nationals facing an unimposing lefty in Drew Pomeranz - certainly looked fortuitous and indeed proved true.

Corbin cruised through a 13-pitch top of the first and never looked back. He retired the first nine batters he faced. And even when he put his first baserunner on (Steven Duggar, via a leadoff walk in the fourth) he immediately erased him via pickoff.

The only San Francisco batter to deliver solid contact and be rewarded for it was Evan Longoria, who ripped a one-out double to left-center in the top of the fifth. Not that his teammates could take advantage; Corbin recorded two more outs and left Longoria stranded where he started.

Both pitchers, to be fair, were aided by Ryan Additon’s generous strike zone. The third-year umpire was calling pitches off the plate all afternoon, and there was a growing suspicion someone would get himself tossed from the game before it was over.

Sure enough, Bruce Bochy got the heave-ho after arguing a called third strike on Brandon Belt in the top of the fifth. Two innings later, Belt joined his skipper in the visitors’ clubhouse after arguing another called third strike.

A few Nationals hitters expressed some displeasure with Additon along the way, but they managed not to say or do anything to merit an early exit. It helped that they were playing ahead all afternoon.

The Nats took a quick 1-0 lead when Zimmerman fouled off three straight Pomeranz fastballs and then connected with the fourth one for an RBI double to the gap in right-center. Back-to-back doubles by Anthony Rendon (who extended his hit streak to 16 games) and Juan Soto made it 2-0 in the third.

A rare power display from Wilmer Difo, who homered to left with two outs in the fourth, added to the Nationals’ lead. A bases-loaded walk drawn by Yan Gomes in the fifth increased it to 4-0, though they missed an opportunity to pile on and put the game out of reach.

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