Nationals top Rockies
WASHINGTON -- A smoothly pitched game disintegrated in a pool of errors as the Rockies fell to the Nationals, 4-1, at Nationals Park, where temperatures topped 100 degrees on Saturday afternoon.
Left-hander Jeff Francis had his sixth straight strong start before leaving a 1-1 tie in the sixth with no out and runners at first and third, but two key errors were part of a three-run inning that sank the Rockies.
Washington's Ryan Zimmerman greeted reliever Josh Roenicke with an RBI single. With Michael Morse hitting, Roenicke bounced a pitch that catcher Wilin Rosario blocked. Rosario retrieved the ball, pump-faked, then fired the ball into center field for an error. Another run scored later in the inning on Roenicke's wild pickoff throw to first base.
The Rockies finished with four errors.
The only mark against Francis in the first five innings was Ian Desmond's 16th home run of the season, a solo shot with one out in the second. Desmond on Saturday pulled out of the All-Star Game because of a left oblique strain. However, Desmond had two hits, including the homer, and has not missed as much as one inning since April 19 for the National League East-leading Nationals.
The loss was Francis' first and the first the Rockies have suffered in one of his starts since June 9, when he fell to the Angels in his first game after signing with Colorado. Francis began the year with the Reds at Triple-A Louisville before asking for his release and joining the Rox.
Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, also an All-Star, limited the Rockies to one run and three hits in six innings. Michael Cuddyer doubled to open the fourth, took third on Tyler Colvin's grounder and scored on Jordan Pacheco's sacrifice line drive to right.
Tyler Clippard earned his 14th save.
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