Nationals 8, Twins 5
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The Washington Nationals followed one of their worst games of the season at the plate with one of their best.
Ryan Zimmerman added two hits and drove in two runs for the Nationals, who held on after taking an 8-0 lead and won for the fourth time in 10 games.
Washington rebounded after getting just three hits, tying a season low, in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh.
“I just think we put some great swings on some pitches,” said left fielder Ryan Church, who had two of the Nationals’ 15 hits. “We were all aggressive, and we went out and got some pitches that we could hit. I don’t think we came in here and changed things.”
Jason Simontacchi (3-4), a former Twins farmhand, allowed four runs and six hits in 7 2-3 innings for Washington. He struck out two and walked one in his longest outing this year.
Simontacchi pitched for the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate, Edmonton, in 2001 before signing as a minor league free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals organization the following year.
“He kept them off balance, didn’t give any fat pitches to hit right down the middle,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said. “He gave us a huge lift.”
Saul Rivera got out of a jam in the eighth inning with two runners on base, then yielded a run in the ninth, but still picked up his second save in three opportunities.
“We tried to come back and couldn’t do it today,” Hunter said.
Carlos Silva (3-7) gave up seven runs in three innings, his shortest start of the season, and allowed nine hits. He dropped to 1-6 in his past seven starts.
“Today was one of those days where whatever I was throwing, they were hitting,” said Silva, who had five quality starts in his previous seven games.
Minnesota’s loss spoiled the return of All-Star catcher Joe Mauer, who was activated from the disabled list after missing 29 games with a strained left quadriceps. Mauer, batting second for the first time this season, went 1-for-5 with a triple.
“I felt a lot better than I thought I would at the plate,” said Mauer, who hit the ball hard several times. “It’s good to be back out there with the guys.”
The Nationals grabbed control of this one early, scoring on Zimmerman’s RBI groundout in the first inning and Rob Fick’s double-play grounder in the second to go up 2-0.
Washington added two runs in the third. Young’s single drove in Zimmerman, who advanced to second on Silva’s balk, and Church followed with a sharp RBI single up the middle.
The Nationals piled on in the fourth, getting run-scoring singles from Guzman and Zimmerman and an RBI groundout from Young to take a 7-0 lead.
Even the outs the Nationals were making against Silva were hit hard.
“He left a couple of balls up, and those guys hit the fastball pretty good,” Mauer said.
Young added an RBI single in the sixth to put Washington ahead 8-0.
“When you get in that hole, it zaps you a little bit,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Ramon Ortiz, who went 11-16 for the Nationals last season and signed with the Twins in the offseason, pitched six innings of one-run relief for Minnesota, but it was too late.
Simontacchi, who threw 101 pitches, cruised until the seventh, when he allowed a 424-foot homer to Kubel into the right-field upper deck.
With the victory, the Nationals now have at least one victory against all of the other 29 major league teams. It was the first meeting ever between the teams. … The Twins dropped to 2-2 in interleague play this season. They were 16-2 last year to tie Boston for the best record in the major leagues. … The start was Simontacchi’s longest since he pitched the only complete game of his career—May 28, 2003, with St. Louis against Houston.