WASHINGTON (AP) — Kyle Schwarber became the sixth player in the history of the Washington Nationals and Montreal Expos franchise to homer in both the first and second innings, driving in four runs in a 5-0 win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday.
Joe Ross allowed five hits in eight innings as the Nationals gained a four-game split.
Schwarber hit his seventh career leadoff homer, his second in as many days, and hit a three-run drive in the second off Johnny Cueto (4-3) for a 4-0 lead. The pitch he hit for second home run was 4.19 feet above the plate, according to MLB Statcast, the highest pitch hit for a home run by Nationals/Expos player since pitch-tracking began in 2008.
“Luck I guess,” Schwarber joked when asked about his success over the weekend after being put in the leadoff spot.
“It’s just another spot in the order," he said. "I think it’s just going up there and trying to take a normal at-bat. It’s not like I hadn’t led off an inning before.”
He joined Ron LeFlore (1980), Wil Cordero (1995), Moises Alou (1996), Mark Grudzielanek (1998) and Bryce Harper (2017 and 2018) in homering in each of the first two innings for the Nationals/Expos franchise.
Schwarber had his ninth multihomer game and first since Aug. 30, 2020, for the Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati. He leads the Nationals with 12 homers.
Josh Harrison had four hits and scored a run for Washington, which had scored three runs in the first three games of the series.
Ross (3-6) struck out a season-high nine and walked none, retiring 13 in a row after Mike Yastrzemski’s first-inning double. Ross had been 0-5 in his previous seven starts.
He became the first pitcher to throw more than seven innings against the Giants this season.
“I felt pretty good commanding the ball,” Ross said after improving to 13-0 in 14 starts when he pitches at least seven innings. “I’m just glad I gave the bullpen a little more rest today.”
Sam Clay pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, finishing the Nationals’ sixth shutout this season. The Giants were blanked for the fourth time, the second in the series.
San Francisco entered with 13 wins in its previous 16 road games but had three runs and 17 hits in the series.
“It extends beyond today’s game,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said of his club’s offensive struggles. “This entire series hasn’t been our best offensive performance. I think we have a higher level of competitiveness in us.”
Cueto gave up five runs — four earned — nine hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings.
Ross laid down three sacrifice bunts which matched Gio Gonzalez on May 2, 2015, against the Mets for the most since the franchise started in Washington in 2005.
San Francisco optioned lefty reliever Caleb Baragar to Triple-A Sacramento. The 27-year-old is 2-1 with a 0.49 ERA in 22 appearances this season and earned his first career save in the Giants’ 2-1 win in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Giants: Cueto was shaken up attempting to field a Victor Robles bunt in the second but stayed in the game.
Nationals: Manager Dave Martinez said that RHP Stephen Strasburg (neck) will have a follow-up appointment with a specialist this week. Martinez said the Nationals are waiting for Strasburg’s nerve irritation to subside before having him begin throwing. ... RHP Max Scherzer, who injured his groin on Friday, played catch in the outfield before Sunday’s game. Martinez said Scherzer is scheduled for a bullpen session Monday, the results of which will determine if he takes his next scheduled turn in the rotation on June 16.
Giants: RHP Alex Wood (5-3, 3.79 ERA) will start Monday’s series opener at home against Arizona.
Nationals: LHP Jon Lester (0-2, 4.19 ERA) is 13-6 with a 3.17 ERA in 26 starts against Pittsburgh going into Monday’s series opener.
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