Kyle Schwarber's switch to leadoff helped Nationals split series with Giants

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Schwarber's switch to leadoff helps Nats split series vs. Giants originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Nationals capped off a back-and-forth, three-day, four-game series with a 5-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday.

With no more than two runs separating the teams in the first three outings (1-0 Giants, 2-0 Nationals, 2-1 Giants), Washington manager Dave Martinez looked back to Game 2 on Saturday afternoon for inspiration to unlock the Nationals offense. The solution: bump Kyle Schwarber to the No. 1 spot and move Trea Turner to No. 2.

The switch proved effective in the first game of their split doubleheader on Saturday, when Schwarber hammered a leadoff homer to get the Nationals going.

Prior to Sunday's game, Martinez told reporters that the two power hitters preferred the order.

"I think Trea likes it because if Schwarber gets on, it gives him a guy on base when he's hitting. I think Schwarber likes it because, like [Saturday], there's a guy who can get something going right away. So it kind of works both ways for these guys," Martinez said.

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The order proved effective once again on Sunday when No. 12 bagged his seventh career leadoff homer in the Nats' first at-bat -- only to follow it up with a three-run, 426-foot shot in the second inning. Both homers came off of Giants starter Johnny Cueto, who allowed a season-high nine hits in just over 5 innings.

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Schwarber joined Bryce Harper as just the second player in team history to homer in the first and second innings, perhaps staking his claim on the leadoff position going forward for the Nationals.

He paved the way for a dominant shutout performance from Erick Fedde on Saturday, and on Sunday Joe Ross parlayed the offensive momentum into an eight-inning shutout of his own. He recorded nine strikeouts and allowed five hits on 108 pitches. 

After a strong performance against the National League-leading Giants, the Nats (27-35) the next three days will host the Pittsburgh Pirates (23-40), who currently sit bottom in the NL Central standings.

Washington gained ground on the NL East-leading New York Mets (32-25) Sunday but is still 7 1/2 games out of first place. The Nats and Mets play four games starting June 18 in D.C. to complete an 11-game homestand.  

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