Nationals chase Lincecum early, defeat Giants 6-2 (Video highlights)
WASHINGTON (AP) — One night after his team's 10-game winning streak was ended in a drubbing by the San Francisco Giants, Washington center fielder Denard Span said it was important the Nationals answer back.
They did. Loud and clear.
Jordan Zimmermann pitched eight strong innings, Asdrubal Cabrera homered and the Nationals kept up their dominance of two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum with a 6-2 win Saturday.
Jayson Werth added a pair of RBI singles and Span had a triple and single for the NL East-leading Nationals, one night after San Francisco trounced them 10-3.
"Last night they score 10 runs, they kind of put a dagger in us a little bit," Span said. "The first inning they were swinging away again. For us to respond, and come out and get a win is definitely good for us."
Zimmermann (9-5) got off to a shaky start when Angel Pagan led off with a double and Hunter Pence followed with a home run on a pitch well out of the strike zone.
"There's only one guy in the game that's going to hit that pitch and it's him," Zimmermann said. "I threw it right where I wanted, 0-2 and up by his shoulders. Beats me how he hit it that far."
Zimmermann quickly recovered and allowed seven hits overall, striking out eight without a walk.
"We scored some runs early and I was able to settle in and not have the pressure of a one-run game," he said.
Lincecum (10-9) was seeking his 100th career win, but turned in the second-shortest start of his career. He gave up six runs, four of them earned, on six hits and four walks in 2 2-3 innings.
In his last seven starts against Washington, he's 0-6 and has permitted 34 earned runs in 32 2-3 innings. Lincecum has failed to pitch at least five innings in four of his last six starts overall, going 1-3 with a 9.49 ERA.
"I've been overdoing it, thinking about what I need to do, instead of just letting my body be athletic," Lincecum said.
Manager Bruce Bochy was asked about considering moving Lincecum to the bullpen.
"We'll talk about it," Bochy said. "He definitely had a tough go today. He was out of sync and his delivery, command, everything — he was just off."
Pablo Sandoval had three hits for San Francisco, which had won six of eight.
Yusmeiro Petit replaced Lincecum and retired all 13 batters he faced. He hasn't allowed a hit in his last 12 1-3 innings of relief.
Pence's 18th homer put the Giants ahead, but Lincecum couldn't hold the lead.
The first three Nationals reached base in the first as Werth's single scored Span, and a double-play grounder brought home the second Nationals run.
Span singled home a run in the second and scored on an error, and Werth drove in one more to make it 5-2.
Lincecum's outing ended in the third when Cabrera homered and Zimmermann doubled.
It was his shortest start since he allowed six earned runs and lasted just 2 1-3 innings against Colorado on April 11, 2012 in a 17-8 loss.
UP NEXT: San Francisco RHP Ryan Vogelsong (7-9, 3.73) opposes Stephen Strasburg (10-10, 3.41) in Sunday's series finale.
BAD NEWS/GOOD NEWS
Washington's rookie OF Michael Taylor was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse Saturday to make room for recently signed veteran OF Nate Schierholtz. Also Saturday, the Eastern League announced Taylor has been chosen its Rookie of the Year. He hit .313 with 22 homers and 34 steals in 98 games with Harrisburg. Schierholtz signed a minor league contract Aug. 18.
Zimmermann wasn't the only one impressed with Pence's home run. "Hunter hit a ball over his head out of the ballpark. I don't know how you do that. It's 95 (miles per hour pitch) and at least at his eye level," Nationals manager Matt Williams said.
Zimmermann, who is 3-0 in seven starts since July 11, retired 15 of 17 batters during one stretch.