MacKenzie Gore strikes out 11 as Nationals beat Athletics 3-1

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — MacKenzie Gore tied a career high with 11 strikeouts, CJ Abrams hit an RBI triple and the Washington Nationals beat the Oakland Athletics 3-1 on Saturday.

Gore (2-0) tossed five scoreless innings, throwing 90 pitches and striking out the last five batters he faced. He struck out the side in the fifth before giving way to the bullpen. Nationals pitchers combined for 18 strikeouts. Kyle Finnegan recorded his fifth save of the season.

“It's beautiful,” manager Davey Martinez said of Gore's performance. “He attacked the strike zone, he goes out there and he competes. Hopefully now, we can see that consistency.”

Martinez said he was not tempted to leave Gore in the game, with a pitch count set at 90. Gore said he understood, crediting the bullpen for closing out the win.

“I was missing bats,” Gore said. “I knew we were locating. (Catcher Riley Adams) was really good today. We had a good game plan. I was able to execute it good enough where we got into a rhythm.”

Abrams, who has hit safely in eight of the last 10 games, had a one-out RBI triple in the third inning to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Luis García Jr. made it 2-0 in the sixth with an RBI double.

“I felt great to be able to come through in that situation,” García said through an interpreter. “We have been struggling with runners in scoring position. But we battled, we stayed together and we kept battling in our at-bats. Hopefully we get more of those driven in.”

Jacob Young knocked in an insurance run in the ninth with a two-out double after Abraham Toro cut the deficit to 2-1 in the seventh with an RBI double.

The Nationals, nearing the end of a week-long Bay Area trip, took two out of three in San Francisco earlier in the week and got back in the win column after dropping the final game against the Giants and the series opener at the A’s on Friday.

The A’s announced a season-low 3,330 fans in attendance on a cold weekend afternoon, the second time in nine home games this year that the team — which is leaving Oakland after this season — drew fewer than 4,000 fans.

Oakland had won five of six entering the game following a 1-7 start to the season, and can still win its third straight series with a victory on Sunday.

A’s starter Joe Boyle (1-2) allowed one run on five hits in five innings. Manager Mark Kotsay praised the righty's performance despite the loss.

“I thought he did his job really well and effectively,” Kotsay said. "There's a lot of lefties in that lineup today, and he gave us a chance after five to just have a one-run deficit. I thought he did really good."


Nationals: Catcher Keibert Ruiz missed his fourth consecutive game with an illness. He was feeling better on Friday and available in case of an emergency, but had a setback on Saturday morning, manager Davey Martinez said. Martinez described Ruiz’s illness as a “five to seven day deal.” The Nationals had just one catcher available on Saturday in Riley Adams.


LHP Alex Wood (0-1, 8.03 ERA) will pitch for the A’s against LHP Trevor Williams (2-0. 2.61 ERA) for the Nationals on Sunday.