WASHINGTON -- Adam LaRoche crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning to break a tie and the Washington Nationals' bullpen held on for a 4-2 victory Tuesday over the San Francisco Giants.
After a lengthy rain delay knocked out starters Madison Bumgarner and Gio Gonzalez, the teams were tied at 1-1 when LaRoche hammered a 1-0 pitch from reliever Guillermo Moscoso (1-1). It flew deep over the right-field wall and off the railing above the Nationals' bullpen for his 17th homer of the season.
Hunter Pence had an RBI single in the seventh to draw San Francisco to 3-2, but Kurt Suzuki added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly and five Washington relievers kept the Giants from drawing even. Tanner Roark (2-0) earned the victory, while Rafael Soriano registered his 30th save.
The Nationals are 52-14 when scoring at least three runs, while the Giants scored less than three runs for the 18th time in 24 games since the All-Star break.
Both teams have labored to score runs all season, and with two strong pitchers on the mound, that problem was exacerbated in the early innings.
The Giants had runners on the corners in the first, thanks to Jayson Werth lackadaisically playing a hit by Joaquin Arias into a double and Gonzalez failing to cover first on a potential double-play ball. But Pence grounded out to second to end the threat.
In between innings, TV cameras caught Werth and Gonzalez arguing animatedly in the dugout.
The Nationals had a great opportunity to break through in the third, but Werth struck out with the bases loaded. In the fourth, the Nationals got on the scoreboard but missed out on a big inning. Ian Desmond doubled and LaRoche singled to open the frame, but Washington was only able to plate one run, on a groundout by Wilson Ramos.
Severe thunderstorms then blew through the area, causing a 77-minute delay and ending the nights of both Bumgarner and Gonzalez.
The Giants tied the score at 1-1 in the fifth when Desmond misplayed what should have been an inning-ending chopper by Buster Posey, allowing Arias to score.
NOTES: Nationals OF Bryce Harper missed the game with a case of the flu, although he still impressed with tape-measure home runs during batting practice. ... Giants 1B Brandon Belt earned NL Player of the Week honors after going .440 with two homers, five RBIs and eight runs last week. "I'm just shooting to play the best I can the rest of the season," he said. ... Both Washington and San Francisco have struggled to live up to preseason predictions that had both teams in the playoffs. "I'm surprised, but every year is a different year," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ... 2B Marco Scutaro was a late scratch from the starting lineup with a stiff back and was replaced by Arias. ... Desmond's fourth-inning double was his 50th extra-base hit of the season, leading all MLB shortstops.