WASHINGTON -- Chris Stratton was originally scheduled to start Friday night before thunderstorms washed away that game and the Giants reshuffled their rotation, pushing his third career start to Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.
And it ended up being his best performance as he spun 6 2/3 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts to help the Giants beat the Nationals, 4-2, in Game 1 of Sunday's split doubleheader. It was the first double-digit strikeout performance of Stratton's Major League career and just the fifth time this season a Giants pitcher has recorded 10 or more strikeouts in a game.
"He really threw some nice pitches with two strikes. He had a good curveball going, a good slider and changeup," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Stratton, who earned his first career win as a starter. "He really stayed in command against a very good hitting ballclub. That's something that should do so much for his confidence."
He held one of MLB's top-ranked offenses in check, even though the Nationals found out earlier Sunday morning that they would be without slugger Bryce Harper for the foreseeable future, after an MRI revealed a bone bruise in his left knee. Washington managed just five hits, all singles, against Stratton.
"[Stratton] was just mixing well," Nats outfielder Andrew Stevenson said. "His fastball was running good, his changeup and curveball he could throw for strikes. Slider had command when he needed it, just keeping people off balance. When you have a four-pitch mix, you can do that and be successful."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Strickland takes the mound at Nationals Park: As Giants right-hander Hunter Strickland made his way from the bullpen, the Nationals fans in attendance greeted him with voracious boos. It was his first appearance in Washington since he hit Harper in the hip in May, inciting a benches-clearing fracas as Harper charged the mound. And the crowd erupted as Anthony Rendon hammered a two-run homer against Strickland, providing the Nationals with their lone offensive spark of the game.
"I said [it would be] a standing ovation I thought he was going to get, so I was a little surprised," Bochy said jokingly about the reception Strickland got from Nats fans. "I'm sure [getting booed] is what he expected."
Hernandez sparks Giants offense: All the offense the Giants would need for the day came in their three-run second inning off Nats starter A.J. Cole, sparked by Gorkys Hernandez's one-out RBI single to right field, which was followed by Joe Panik's two-run single. Hernandez finished the game 2-for-3 with an RBI and a walk, continuing his upward trend since the All-Star break, posting a slash line of .321/.370/.417.
"Panik and Hernandez [and] the back end of our order set that up," Bochy said. "Those things win ballgames for you, and we've been missing that a lot this year."
Those three runs were all that Cole, making perhaps his final start in place of the injured Stephen Strasburg, surrendered as he allowed three runs in six innings while striking out a season-high six batters.
"I was feeling pretty good," Cole said. "I still got to work on when I get those two strikes [to] put them away. I keep giving them those easy pitches right over the middle, not making them work for it."
Nationals outfielder Brian Goodwin left the game in the top of the ninth inning, after feeling tightness in his groin while running the bases in the eighth inning.
"We didn't want to take any chances," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said after the game. "They're working on him now. They're going to evaluate it. Boy, it's getting tough. I'm glad we've got bodies and quality players."
It is the latest injury to the Nationals, especially in the outfield where they have used 12 players already this season. Washington did receive good news on Harper earlier Sunday after the team feared the worst when he injured himself Saturday night. Harper was in good spirits between games as he gave an update on his injury, and although he did not offer up a timetable, he believes he will return this season.
"It's just a freak accident, freak situation," Harper said. "I think [the season] flashed before your eyes and then you realize there's nothing you can do. It's part of the game, it's part of sports. I mean, you just try to hope for the best and pray for the best. I think we got the best possible news that we could."
In the top of the eighth inning, the Giants challenged the call that Ryder Jones was out at first base on a force play. After a one minute, 17-second review, the call was overturned as it was determined that Jones' foot touched the bag before the ball was caught by first baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: The Giants will send left hander Matt Moore to the mound for the second game of Sunday's twin bill, which starts at 4:05 p.m. PT. The 28-year-old has been charged with a loss in five of his last eight starts, so he'll be looking to notch a "W" for the first time since June 20.
Nationals:Max Scherzer will start the nightcap of Sunday's split doubleheader with the Giants. Perhaps his best outing of the season came in San Francisco earlier this season when Scherzer threw a complete game where he allowed one run and struck out 11. First pitch Sunday is at 7:05 p.m. ET.