WASHINGTON -- The D-backs smacked four home runs and got another outstanding performance from right-hander Zack Godley as they beat the Nationals, 6-4, on Monday night at Nationals Park.
Godley (3-0) tossed six shutout innings and has thrown six innings in each of his first three Major League starts. His outing Monday, in which he allowed three hits and struck out six, lowered his ERA to 1.50. Five of the six runs the D-backs scored came via the home run as Nick Ahmed, Welington Castillo and Jake Lamb each hit solo shots and David Peralta chipped in a two-run blast.
Doug Fister (4-7) suffered the loss for the Nats, who dropped their fourth straight game and fell to one game back in the National League East. Fister allowed five runs on eight hits over six innings, and the Washington offense struggled to put together any kind of rally until the ninth, when they scored all four of their runs thanks to a homer by Ryan Zimmerman, an RBI single by Wilson Ramos and Michael Taylor's two-run double.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED 'Beef' mode: Castillo has been swinging well during this road trip. After going 1-for-4, he is 9-for-23 on the trip with five home runs. Since coming to the D-backs from the Mariners, he's hitting .291 with 10 home runs.
"I don't try to do it," Castillo said of hitting the homer. "But the pitcher made a mistake, I tried not to miss. You aren't going to get many mistakes at this level, but I feel really good at the plate."
Look familiar? Fister's rough stretch of three home runs allowed in six batters was just the latest trouble that Washington's pitchers have had with the long ball. Jordan Zimmermann allowed three home runs Sunday night, including back-to-back shots. During an 84-batter stretch that started with the last at-bat Friday night against the Mets through the end of the fourth inning Monday, the Nationals allowed nine home runs, roughly one every time though the order.
"When it's up in the zone, it's much easier to hit," Fister said. "It doesn't have the deception. It doesn't have the sink on it. It's a lot flatter and straighter. These guys are good hitters. I have to respect that. I have to make a quality pitch, and if not, they are going to make me pay for it."
Final start for Godley? The D-backs want to monitor how many innings Godley throws this season after he threw just 55 1/3 innings in relief last year. Arizona manager Chip Hale said Monday could be Godley's final start for now, but given the way he's pitched, the team has begun to rethink that. More >
"That's one of the issues we had to be careful of -- is he tired?" Hale said. "We need to check that out and see how he feels. That will go into our decision on what we do next."
Too little, too late: The Nationals put together a valiant, last-ditch effort in the bottom of the ninth, stringing together five hits in a row, but it came up short. Zimmerman blasted a one-out solo homer, and Taylor's double four batters later brought the Nationals within two. Jayson Werth and Yunel Escobar both batted as the potential tying run, but neither was able to produce.
"Zim, I think he needed that one," right fielder Bryce Harper said. "He felt good on that swing and it's huge to see. Being able to come through in that situation and get four runs up there, it's good to see. But it was a little too late in that situation."
"Again, just nasty movement. You could see they wanted to swing at some pitches and either got half-swings or just hit ground balls for us [on pitches] that maybe would have been balls. He has that movement with the cutter and the sinker that is hard to square up." -- Hale, on Godley
"Give me that situation every year and I'll take it every year." -- Zimmerman, on the Nationals being one game back in the NL East on Aug. 3
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
In 164 innings last season, Fister allowed 44 earned runs. He's allowed the same number of runs through 86 innings this year. More >
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With one out in the fifth inning, Fister attempted a sacrifice bunt to advance Taylor from first base. On the field, the result was a 2-6-3 double play, but Nationals manager Matt Williams challenged the out call at both bases. The call at second base was overturned -- shortstop Ahmed came off the base before receiving the throw -- but Fister's out at first stood as called.
WHAT'S NEXT D-backs:Patrick Corbin continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery as he starts Tuesday's game (4:05 p.m. MST) against the Nationals. It will be his sixth start since being activated from the disabled list, and over his last three starts, Corbin has an ERA of 2.00.
Nationals: In the second game of the series, ace Max Scherzer takes the ball against his former team Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. In May, Scherzer (11-8, 2.22 ERA) pitched seven innings of one-run ball against the D-backs at Chase Field.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.