Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Luis Atilano takes on Tim Lincecum tonight at AT&T Park.
The Nationals hope to bounce back from last night's 4-2 loss to the Giants, though to do so they'll have to beat Tim Lincecum. I detailed the reasons the Nats could take down the two-time Cy Young Award winner (most of them with tongue firmly planted in-cheek) earlier today, so I'll refrain from more of that. Let's just say it's going to take a superb effort both from the Nats' lineup as well as starter Luis Atilano, who has been shaky his last two times out.
Only one change to the starting lineup from last night's game: Adam Kennedy starts at second base, with Cristian Guzman (who is about to become the NL's leading hitter) getting the night off. Otherwise, it's the status quo for a Nats offense that has averaged just 3.4 runs over its last 11 games.
Check back for updates throughout...
NATIONALS at GIANTS
Where: AT&T Park
Gametime: 10:15 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly sunny, 51 degrees, Wind 11 mph out to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
C Wil Nieves
P Luis Atilano
LF Andres Torres
2B Freddy Sanchez
3B Pablo Sandoval
1B Aubrey Huff
SS Juan Uribe
C Bengie Molina
CF Aaron Rowand
RF Nate Schierholtz
P Tim Lincecum
10:15 p.m. -- Tim Lincecum, who takes the mound to the strains of "The Doors," rares back and fires a high ball to Nyjer Morgan to get this one underway.
10:24 p.m. -- The good news: Lincecum was not nearly in top form in the top of the first. The bad news: The Nats couldn't take advantage of that. After Adam Kennedy drew a one-out walk, Ryan Zimmerman hit into a fielder's choice. Then, after Zim advanced to second when first baseman Aubrey Huff inexplicably threw wild back to the pitcher after a pickoff attempt, Adam Dunn struck out on a low sinker. Dunn, if you were wondering, is now 0-for-19 this season with two outs and runners in scoring position. Yeah, 0-for-19.
10:28 p.m. -- Eh, this Lincecum guy is OK, but he's no Luis Atilano. The bespectacled rookie just mowed down the Giants in order in the first, needing only nine pitches to do it. Nice job, kid.
10:38 p.m. -- The Nats don't have a hit through two innings, but they have made Lincecum work. He's thrown 42 pitches already, only 20 strikes. He's walked three (one intentionally) and he went to a three-ball count on five of the first eight batters he faced. If you can't beat him, at least try to knock him out early.
10:45 p.m. -- Six up, six down for Atilano, all six groundouts.
10:51 p.m. -- Wow, that wasn't pretty but it resulted in a run for the Nats. Nyjer Morgan singled to lead off the third, then stole second (the first stolen base for any National since May 10, but the ninth successful basestealer in as many chances against Lincecum this year). Adam Kennedy then dropped a sinking liner to center that looked to everyone like a clean single. Everyone except Morgan, who held up for a moment. By the time he reached third, Pat Listach had the stop sign up. Nyjer, though, kept running. And he somehow beat Aaron Rowand's throw the plate, even though he didn't slide and nearly took out Ryan Zimmerman's knees. No matter, the Nats took a 1-0 lead.
10:55 p.m. -- Make that 3-0 thanks to Josh Willingham's double to the deepest part of the park in right-center and Ian Desmond's RBI single to right. Willingham got thrown out trying to add another run, but that was a good "send" by Listach with Wil Nieves on-deck. Gotta take chances against Lincecum. How about this start by the Nats?
11:05 p.m. -- Thanks to a really nice play by Ian Desmond going to his left, Atilano keeps the Giants scoreless through three. It's 3-0.
11:25 p.m. -- Someone wrote this afternoon (I can't remember who) that the Nats could have success against Lincecum by stealing off him. Well, they're already 4-for-4 through four innings tonight, and two of those steals (back-to-back by Kennedy) set up the Nats' fourth run of the night (on Dunn's sac fly. It's still early, but things are shaping up well here so far.
11:32 p.m. -- And with a soft base hit over the first baseman (Todd Wellemeyer would call that a "duck fart"), Ian Desmond puts the Nats up 6-0 in the fifth AND knocks Lincecum out of the game. Wow.
11:53 p.m. -- Atilano served up a leadoff homer to Juan Uribe in the fifth, but he battled back to get out of the inning without any more damage. If the rookie can get through the sixth unscathed, Jim Riggleman might feel like that's enough and then turn the rest over to his bullpen. As it stands, the Nats lead 6-1 going to the bottom of the sixth.
11:59 p.m. -- So much for that. Atilano is out after two batters in the sixth. Roger Bernadina didn't help him by misplaying Andres Torres' line drive into a triple, but even so, with one out, a runner on third and the Nats up five, why not let Atilano face Pablo Sandoval? Even if Sandoval homers, it's still a three-run lead. Curious. Anyways, Doug Slaten is now in.
12:03 a.m. -- And Slaten promptly serves up a double to Sandoval, bringing home a run. It's now 6-2, with two outs in the inning, and Drew Storen has come on. Meanwhile, the fans out in the center-field bleachers are all over Nyjer Morgan. Not sure if Nyjer is egging them on (he might well be) but it's gotten pretty animated out there.
12:06 a.m. -- Three pitches from Storen, three strikes. Inning over. Wow. We head to the seventh, Nats leading 6-2.
12:35 a.m. -- Storen allowed his second run as a major-leaguer, but it wasn't all his fault. Ian Desmond was charged with an error for a wild throw to first on a double-play attempt, though blame also goes to Adam Kennedy for a poor feed to Desmond and Adam Dunn for letting the wide throw get past him. Storen came up big in striking out Torres with a 3-2 offspeed pitch. It's now 7-3, heading to the eighth.
12:50 a.m. -- A perfect eighth for Tyler Clippard, who struck out two. Clip has really gotten back on track his last few times out. He hasn't put a man on base in his last four appearances.
1:03 a.m. -- That's your ballgame. Nats win, 7-3. Luis Atilano improves to 4-1 and records the first win for a starter since he beat the Mets on May 10. Tim Lincecum suffers his first loss of the year. It's not quite Speigner over Santana, but this one certainly ranks right up there.