The Giants might get a boost Monday with All-Star third baseman Pablo Sandoval set to come off the disabled list before the opener of a three-game set against the visiting Nationals.
San Francisco (63-52) heads into this series holding a one-game lead over Los Angeles in the NL West, while Washington (71-44) has a bigger cushion of 4 1/2 games over Atlanta atop the East.
The Giants maintained their slim advantage over the weekend with consecutive wins thanks to strong performances at the plate. After recording 13 hits in a 9-3 win over Colorado on Saturday, the Giants had 14 while rallying for a 9-6 victory in the series finale.
Hunter Pence hit a go-ahead three-run homer - his first long ball in 12 games with San Francisco - in Sunday's eighth inning, and Melky Cabrera also drove in three runs. Pence had gone 7 for 47 (.149) in his first 11 games for the Giants.
"He's been working hard and it was nice to see him come through," catcher Buster Posey said.
San Francisco is hoping Sandoval can provide some heroics after his return from a strained left hamstring. He also missed more than a month earlier this season after breaking a bone in his left wrist.
Manager Bruce Bochy is looking forward to having Sandoval back in the fold.
"It's nice to have the versatility where you can move guys around," Bochy told the Giants' official website. "I think that'll play a major role down the stretch here. If somebody gets a little nicked up or is not seeing the ball well, it's nice to have this depth."
Sandoval and the Giants will have a difficult matchup against the Nationals, who swept a three-game home series versus San Francisco from July 3-5. The Giants will face Washington's wins leader Gio Gonzalez (14-6, 3.32 ERA) on Monday.
Gonzalez is coming off a complete-game win at Houston on Wednesday in which he gave up three runs and struck out seven.
That victory was part of an eight-game Nationals winning streak that ended with a 7-4 loss at Arizona on Sunday.
"We are going to lose just like everyone else loses," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "We won the series and go to San Francisco and try to win that series, then enjoy a day off finally after a month of playing baseball. If we finish this road trip up strong, it will be a great road trip."
The Nationals, who have lost nine of 12 in San Francisco, will face Ryan Vogelsong (10-5, 2.27), who has given up more than three runs only once in his last 18 starts.
He managed to win that outing - a 16-4 rout of Colorado on Aug. 3 - and returned to top form Wednesday by allowing three hits over seven innings of a 15-0 drubbing of St. Louis.
While Vogelsong will make his first start against the Nationals, Gonzalez is set to renew a former rivalry. The left-hander faced the Giants annually in interleague play for Oakland before signing with Washington in January.
Gonzalez is 1-2 with a 3.42 ERA in four career starts against San Francisco.
|August 05, 2012||Mark DeRosa||15-Day DL||Left abdominal strain|
|August 01, 2012||Henry Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|July 29, 2012||Adam LaRoche||Day-to-Day||Left game - Back tightness|
|July 22, 2012||Ian Desmond||15-Day DL||Torn left oblique|
|July 18, 2012||Jhonatan Solano||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|July 01, 2012||Chien-Ming Wang||15-Day DL||Strained right hip|
|San Francisco Giants|
|August 07, 2012||Shane Loux||15-Day DL||Recurring neck strain|
|July 31, 2012||Aubrey Huff||15-Day DL||Strained right knee|
|July 25, 2012||Pablo Sandoval||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|July 18, 2012||Hector Sanchez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|July 18, 2012||Hector Sanchez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|July 17, 2012||Hector Sanchez||Day-to-Day||Left knee sprain|
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Gio Gonzalez makes friends easily, and he showed why on Monday night after the Washington Nationals ' blowout victory over the San Francisco Giants .
Before he discussed anything he did on the mound, Gonzalez took time to acknowledge the run support his teammates gave him.
Kurt Suzuki drove in four runs, Danny Espinosa and Roger Bernadina each knocked in three, and the Nationals routed the Giants 14-2 in a matchup of NL division leaders.
"Most importantly they came up big and gave me something to work with," Gonzalez said. "My thought from the get-go was just to maintain, especially with the pitcher they had today. He's not an easy guy to go out there and get a couple of runs off of, and right off the bat these guys are swinging the bat. Can't complain with some runs."
Gonzalez (15-6) tied a Nationals record for wins in a season, boosted by Washington's highest-scoring game of the season.
"I just tried to pound the strike zone," Gonzalez said. "Last inning started wearing on me a little bit, but that's why you have a great bullpen, to clean up my mess."
The Nationals led 14-0 in the fifth inning and won for the 11th time in 13 games. They are 7-1 on this road trip.
"The boys are in a good mood," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "Just like the skipper. It was fun to watch the offense. We beat up on a pretty good pitcher."
NL ERA leader Ryan Vogelsong (10-6) allowed eight runs and nine hits in 2 2-3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.
Pinch hitter Brandon Crawford homered and drove in both runs for the Giants, who have lost three of five. San Francisco dropped into a tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West lead.
"There's not a whole lot to say," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "What could go wrong went wrong and they made some pretty good contact. They placed the ball well and we couldn't stop it."
Gonzalez returned to the Bay Area for the first time since the Oakland Athletics traded him to the Nationals during the offseason. He won his second straight after going 1-3 in his five previous starts.
Gonzalez gave up two runs and six hits over 6 2-3 innings.
Every Nationals position player, with the exception of late-inning replacement Cesar Izturis , either scored a run, drove in a run or got a hit. Bernadina had four of Washington's 21 hits, and Steve Lombardozzi , Ryan Zimmerman , Espinosa and Suzuki each had three. Suzuki's three-run double capped a seven-run third that made it 8-0.
"You play the game the right way and you get rewarded for it," Zimmerman said. "We just got some big hits and that was it."
The 21 hits were most by a visiting team at AT&T Park.
Vogelsong ended up with the fourth-best ERA in the NL. Of the 19 batters he faced, 11 reached base. He hadn't pitched fewer than six innings in any of his previous starts this season, and hadn't allowed more than two runs in his 11 previous home starts.
"Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way, it's part of the game," Vogelsong said. "I felt like I made the pitches I wanted to make with the exception of the fastball to Suzuki. That's the only ball I left over the middle of the plate."
Washington has won 13 of 14 road games and owns the best road winning percentage in the majors. The Nationals have scored a major-league best 170 runs since the All-Star break. The Giants are second with 153. The Nationals have outscored San Francisco 38-14 in four games, all wins, this season.
NOTES: Giants INF Pablo Sandoval (hamstring strain) was activated from the DL. IF Brett Pill was optioned to Triple-A. ... OF Jayson Werth was a late scratch for the Nationals because of an ankle injury. He will undergo an MRI on Tuesday. ... LHP Madison Bumgarner (12-7, 3.08) pitches for the Giants on Tuesday night. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (9-6, 2.35) goes for the Nationals. He has eight wins against the NL West and seven against the NL East. He took over the NL lead in ERA. ... Michael Morse , who left early with a swollen thumb, extended his hitting streak to 11 games for the Nationals. ... Giants manager Bruce Bochy was ejected in the top of the second by first base umpire Jerry Layne. ... The Nationals were 10 of 20 with runners in scoring position.