Game in a nutshell: After last night's impressive show starring Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, the Nationals once again pounced on the Red Sox and took an early lead. Adam LaRoche's team-leading 10th homer got them on the board, and a three-run fourth off Daisuke Matsuzaka made it 4-0 and spoiled the right-hander's return from Tommy John surgery. Gio Gonzalez was dominant for six innings but got a quick hook after putting two men on in the seventh. Lefty Michael Gonzalez (no relation) then let two inherited runners score on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's laser off the Green Monster. No worries, though, because Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard shut the door on any possible Boston comeback, and in the process ensured yet another series victory for the first-place Nationals.
Hitting highlight: It took them a little while to figure out Matsuzaka, but once the Nationals got to the Red Sox right-hander, they really got to him. During a three-run fourth inning, they put four men on base and hit another ball hard for an out. Most impressively, both Michael Morse and Ian Desmond delivered RBI with base hits to the opposite field. Morse's double was his sixth hit since coming off the disabled, five of them hit to right field. Desmond's subsequent single brought in two more runs and gave him 30 RBI for the season (third-most among all MLB shortstops).
Pitching highlight: No pitcher in baseball has surrendered fewer hits per nine innings this season than Gio Gonzalez, who for six innings today gave up only two clean hits. But the wheels began to fall off in the seventh, and after issuing a one-out walk and then a single, the lefty was done for the day after 98 pitches. Thus continued a somewhat disturbing trend by Nationals starters, who despite their dominance this season are averaging only 6.04 innings per outing. Long-term, they're going to need to go a bit deeper into games.
Key stats: How good has Bryce Harper been at in-game adjustments? He's hitting just .250 in his first at-bat of the game, but he's hitting .394 in all subsequent at-bats against opposing starters.
Up next: Sunday's series finale features another intriguing pitching matchup. Jordan Zimmermann makes his first career start at Fenway, with left-hander Jon Lester on the mound for the Red Sox at 1:35 p.m.