Home run-starved Giants hit three off Stephen Strasburg in series-opening win

Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt and Steven Duggar all homered for the Giants on Tuesday

  • WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 16: Starting pitcher Dereck Rodriguez #57 of the San Francisco Giants works the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. All uniformed players and coaches are wearing number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

  • WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 16: San Francisco Giants players warm up before playing against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. All uniformed players and coaches are wearing number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

  • WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 16: Wilmer Difo #1 of the Washington Nationals scores against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at Nationals Park on April 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. All uniformed players and coaches are wearing number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

  • WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 16: Gerardo Parra #8 of the San Francisco Giants stands for the national anthem before playing against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. All uniformed players and coaches are wearing number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

  • WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 16: Kevin Pillar #1 of the San Francisco Giants warms up before playing Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park on April 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. All uniformed players and coaches are wearing number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Giants have already made a number of pitchers most fans haven’t heard of look like All-Stars this season.

In Tuesday’s 7-3 win over the Washington Nationals, the Giants made a pitcher nearly everyone has heard of appear merely average.

Three-time All-Star and former No. 1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg surrendered three home runs for just the third time in his 10-year major league career as third baseman Evan Longoria, right fielder Steven Duggar and first baseman Brandon Belt all went deep for the Giants.

“He’s a top pitcher, he’s been one of the best pitchers in this game for awhile so knowing that going to the plate, we were just trying to be selective and not help him out,” Duggar said.

Only Duggar’s 387-foot opposite field shot into the visiting bullpen at Nationals Park looked like it would have had a chance to clear the fences at Oracle Park, but the Giants were thrilled to take advantage of the friendlier dimensions in Washington, D.C. after concluding a 10-game homestand with a shutout loss on Sunday.

San Francisco entered the game with just 10 home runs in 17 games –the second fewest in all of baseball– but a pair of fifth-inning homers and Belt’s solo shot in the sixth helped starter Dereck Rodríguez collect his second win of the season.

“We had some good at-bats off a very tough pitcher so it’s good to see us break out,” Bochy said.

Rodríguez’s father Ivan was the Nationals catcher in Strasburg’s major league debut on June 8, 2010 when he set a major league record for strikeouts in a debut with 14. Rodríguez watched that game from the Nationals home clubhouse and on Tuesday, he watched Strasburg from a different vantage point as the opposing starter hit an RBI double off of him in the second inning.

The run was the only one Rodríguez allowed in five innings of work as the Nationals ran up the right-hander’s pitch count early in the game.

Rodríguez’s worst start of his rookie season came against Washington as he allowed a career-high five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings at Nationals Park last June, but he overcame early command issues on Tuesday to lower his season ERA to 3.63.

“Knowing my history here from last year and finally getting this one under my belt, going five strong was a confidence-booster,” Rodríguez said.

After the Giants expanded their lead to 6-1 in the top of the seventh against the worst bullpen in baseball, right-hander Sam Dyson allowed two seventh inning runs to give the Nationals a glimmer of hope.

Dyson was one of six Giants relievers who began the day with a sub-2.00 ERA, but he allowed three hits including a mammoth Matt Adams pinch-hit home run in his worst outing of the season. Adams’ home run also broke a 21-inning scoreless streak for the Giants’ bullpen which began with 13 shutout frames in Friday’s 18-inning victory over the Rockies.

A series-opening win was the ideal way for Bochy to cap off his 64th birthday in the nation’s capital. The Giants manager spent much of his youth in northern Virginia and recalled attending his first major league game at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. with his dad before Tuesday’s game.

The victory marked the fourth in the last five games for the Giants and will give them two days to clinch their second consecutive series victory after dropping their first four series for the first time since 1983.

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