Yankees Sweep Nationals Division Leader has Difficulty Scoring Runs

Charles E. Sutton | 6/19/2012, 2:53 p.m.

Yankees Sweep Nationals

Division Leader has Difficulty Scoring Runs

The highly -anticipated series between the New York Yankees and the Nationals ended Sunday afternoon with the Yankees having swept the home town team. Yankees pitcher Ivan Nova kept a frustrated Washington lineup in check for seven and two-thirds innings, while Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano hit solo home runs for New York. The Nationals scored two runs on Friday and three runs on Saturday. On Sunday, they only scored one run on six hits.

"We've got some work to do," said first baseman Adam LaRoche, who provided the Nationals' only run, a second-inning solo home run to right field. "Tough series, but we got outplayed. We got beat. ... Not a lot of breaks three straight days."

Now on a nine-game winning streak, the Yankees (40-25) left town as the hottest team in baseball. The Nationals (38-26) had a bad weekend, but so did the rest of the National League East. As a result, despite experiencing only their third sweep of the season, they still held on to a four-game lead in the division. However, there was little consolation taken in that. "We lost, so we're not very happy about that," rookie outfielder Bryce Harper said.

On three occasions in Sunday's game, the Nationals had runners in scoring position, and all three times they failed to score. Nationals' hitters had little success against Nova. He only needed 97 pitches to reach the eighth inning, as he gave up seven hits and a walk before the Yankees' bullpen got the final four outs.

Coming into the series, the Nationals knew they needed run support. Ryan Zimmerman, the team's flagship player, continued to struggle at the plate. He went 0 for 4, and saw only seven pitches in the process. He had two one-pitch at-bats.

Harper was in a 0 for 10 slump prior to his second at-bat of the game. On Saturday, he went 0 for 7 with five strikeouts, and was visibly frustrated. But, he quickly erased some of that in his second at-bat on Sunday, hitting a ball into the out-of-town scoreboard in right field, for a stand-up double. He finished the day 2 for 4.

"You especially need the guys in the middle of your lineup to do the things they're capable of doing," manager Davey Johnson said. "And that's what we've got to get going."