|Giants hope to power way past Nationals|
SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants hope to continue their power surge against one of the top pitchers in the National League when they go for a series sweep against Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals on Wednesday afternoon.
Brandon Belt homered for the fifth time in the Giants' last seven games, and Mac Williamson broke a late tie with a solo shot, his third homer in five games, as San Francisco extended its winning streak to a season-best three games with a 4-3 win Tuesday night.
The Nationals have lost three straight, but they've saved their ace, Scherzer, for the series finale when he and Giants righty Jeff Samardzija will duel for just the second time in careers that began 88 days apart in 2008.
Neither Belt nor Williamson has ever homered off Scherzer, but the right-hander with eight career starts against the Giants might expect to see Giants part-timer Pablo Sandoval, who has taken him deep twice in 14 career at-bats.
The game matches a team that's been riding its power hitting against a pitcher who is stingy giving up the long ball.
The Giants have hit at least one home run in each of their last seven games. More than half their runs this season (42 of 74) have been a product of home runs.
Meanwhile, Scherzer has given up just two homers in his five starts, covering 33 innings, this season.
Scherzer (4-1, 1.36 ERA) got the better of Samardzija in their only previous head-to-head, limiting the Giants to five hits and one run in seven innings in a 4-1 win at San Francisco in July of 2016.
The 145-game winner had gone just 3-4 with a 4.17 ERA in his eight career starts against the Giants. He's 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA in four starts in San Francisco.
Scherzer will take the mound riding a personal three-game winning streak. He is coming off a 5-2 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers in which he allowed just one run in six innings.
After starting their nine-game trip with two wins in three games against the New York Mets, the Nationals have slumped badly on offense and watched four well pitched games go to waste.
Frustrations nearly boiled over after Monday's 4-2 loss to the Giants when starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez stormed into manager Dave Martinez's office to complain about having been pulled in the sixth inning of a game the Nationals trailed just 2-1.
But less than 24 hours later, Gonzalez insisted the first-year manager had said all the right things to prevent any lingering bad feelings.
"It's beautiful that our skipper speaks to us," Gonzalez said Tuesday. "It makes a huge difference knowing what's going on. That was a situation that if people keep to themselves, it'd be a different story. Communication. That's all we want. Once we have communication, everything is nice and calm and everything plays out the way it should play out."
Samardzija (1-0, 0.00) was impressive in his delayed season debut last week, shutting out the Los Angeles Angels on two hits for five innings in an 8-1 Giants win.
The 33-year-old had missed the start of the season because of a pectoral strain suffered late in spring training.
He is just 2-7 with a 4.07 ERA in 16 career games (nine starts) against the Nationals. Samardzija was 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts against Washington last year.