Offense, defense fall flat as Washington Nationals lose series finale to Giants

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer throws to the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a baseball game Friday

Hunter Pence is healthy at last.

Samardzija, a former wide receiver at Notre Dame, stayed put on a pair of fly outs and should have been stranded when Hunter Pence hit a grounder to third base.

It helped San Francisco avoid what would have been a fourth straight loss.

Oh, with that new face in the infield of Eduardo Nunez.

If you need more evidence of even-year magic lifting the San Francisco Giants to an inevitable World Series title, look no further than the fifth inning of Sunday's game against the Nationals.

Pence tore his right hamstring off the bone while running the bases during a game on June 1 and had surgery a week later.

That's when this wild afternoon peaked: Bumgarner, who's been in Bruce Bochy's ear all weekend, finally got his pinch hitter's shot. In addition to the talent, he brings energy and all those intangibles.

The combined no-hitter was immediately broken up upon Cain's departure; George Kontos gave up a leadoff single to Bryce Harper, who eventually scored the Nats only run on Rendon's double.

Washington Nationals shortstop Wilmer Difo left turns a double play over San Francisco Giants Angel Pagan after a ground ball was hit by Giants Joe Panik during the first inning of a baseball game Friday July 2
Offense, defense fall flat as Washington Nationals lose series finale to Giants

"There's no secret he's our emotional, spiritual, whatever you want to go with, leader", catcher Buster Posey said. "He's definitely a big boost". He got his first at-bat Friday.

The play occurred in the eighth inning when Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford hit a line drive that was picked up by Ryan Zimmerman, who proceeded to get the out at first and zipped the ball to Anthony Rendon at third to turn the triple play. Crawford entered for defense in the ninth Saturday. The Giants won for only the third time in 14 games since the All-Star break. The Red Sox hammered him for five runs in 2 1/3 innings, and the Reds got to Cain for four runs, but he managed to last 5 1/3 innings. The Giants won 3-1. A bases-loaded walk of Trevor Brown added an insurance run.

Hard-throwing right-hander Reynaldo Lopez was making his second career start and the Giants repeatedly let him off the hook in the first three innings. He battled his command, walking four hitters and hitting another, but also struck out five to win his second consecutive decision - the first time Cain has done that since May 2013.

Murphy felt tightness in his left leg in the cold San Francisco weather during Thursday night's game, then tried to play through it on Friday. Baker said doctors have identified Stephen Drew's dizziness issue.

"That was great for me to make that mistake there", he said.

Center fielder Denard Span also was out of the lineup because of a tender quadriceps from a collision at home plate Friday.

The Giants' 60-44 record heading into the series finale with the Nationals was the NL's third-best behind only the Chicago Cubs (62-41) and Washington (61-43). The Giants went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and fell behind in the third when Peavy made a mistake after a borderline strike call didn't go his way.

-The Giants optioned outfielder Jarrett Parker to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for Nunez on the roster.

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