WASHINGTON — Brandon Crawford did something on Sunday that few hitters have done this season. He got the best of Max Scherzer.
Crawford went 4 for 4 with a two-run homer, and the Giants dealt Scherzer his first loss in more than two months, defeating the Nationals 2-0 to win the three-game series.
After Pablo Sandoval walked leading off the fourth, Crawford homered into the second deck in right for his eighth of the season. He singled in the first and doubled in the sixth off Scherzer and added a double off Matt Grace in the eighth.
“I threw good pitches to him. He put great swings on them. He wins, I lose,” Scherzer said. “That’s as simple as that. He’s hot. I have to be better than him. Today, he was great.”
Crawford has been great for the past six weeks. Since May 1, he is hitting an MLB-best .439 (58 for 132) and has raised his average to .338.
“It’s been impressive. It really has. To sustain the quality at-bats that he has for this long. That’s why yesterday I gave him a day,” said manager Bruce Bochy, who limited Crawford to a pinch-hitting appearance Saturday.
Crawford admitted he might have cost himself the cycle when he lashed a hit down the left-field line in the eighth and ended up with his second double.
“Right when I hit it I was thinking about it and I was running hard out of the box and then I saw it was curving pretty hard and I thought it was going to go foul and I slowed up for second,” he said. “I was a little disappointed in myself.”
Derek Holland (4-6), a 10-year veteran facing Washington for the first time, allowed three hits and two walks in five innings as five pitchers combined for the three-hitter. Hunter Strickland pitched the ninth for his 13th save.
Scherzer (10-2) had won nine consecutive decisions since a loss on April 4. He allowed two runs and four hits while striking out nine over seven innings. He struck out the side on 11 pitches in the second inning in the midst of six consecutive strikeouts.
Austin Jackson had the Giants’ only other hit against Scherzer.
Holland allowed the first two Nationals to reach in the second but induced a double-play grounder from Michael A. Taylor and struck out Wilmer Difo.
“I knew going into the game I can’t make any mistakes,” Holland said. “He’s Max Scherzer. I mean he’s been doing a great job this year. He held us to two runs.”
The Giants earned their first series victory at Nationals Park since taking two of three games from July 9-11, 2010.
Outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, who was hit in the ribs in the eighth inning Saturday, was out of the lineup. Bochy said Hernandez was available to pinch hit Sunday and to play today.
Brandon Belt (appendix removed on June 1) will begin taking swings today.
Right-hander Johnny Cueto (right elbow inflammation) and RHP Jeff Samardzija (right shoulder tightness) are both expected to throw 40-pitch bullpen sessions today.
Madison Bumgarner (0-1, 3.00 ERA) makes his second start of the season as the Giants begin a four-game series today at Miami. He’s 2-3 with a 4.73 ERA gainst Miami.