For the second game in a row, Rafael Soriano gave up a long fly ball with two outs in the ninth inning that would represent runs for the San Francisco Giants (53-67).
Only this time, Soriano’s outfielders couldn’t bail him out, as the ball rocketed into the right-field bleachers, and the Washington Nationals (59-61) ultimately fell to the Giants, 4-3.
Hector Sanchez’s three-run homer was his first of the season, and the hit raised his batting average to a measly .234. But despite the unlikely odds that he would play the spoiler, Sanchez spelled Soriano’s fifth blown save of the year.
Winning this contest would have sent the Nationals to Atlanta with an even record, riding a season-high six-game winning streak. Instead, the Nats will find themselves still scrambling to retain momentum and straining for .500.
The loss wasted another solid post-DL performance from Dan Haren, who pitched six strong innings and gave up only three hits. The outing lowered his ERA to 4.82, and gave him a 1.33 ERA over seven starts since coming off the disabled list.
The only run Haren allowed was a solo shot to Brandon Belt, his second home run of the series. Though Haren used to be king of home runs allowed among MLB pitchers, he has surrendered only three since the DL.
The Nationals’ offense did a decent job of supporting Haren, though they went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base.
Both the Nationals and the Giants had left the bases loaded without reaping any reward in the first few innings of the game. Ian Desmond broke the scoring stalemate in the third inning by smacking a double to left-centerfield to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead. Adam LaRoche followed up with a fly ball, hit just out of reach of left-fielder Roger Kieschnick, which would bring home the final Nationals run of the game.
The small lead was almost enough for the Nats to win, as the Fernando Abad and Tyler Clippard held the Giants scoreless through the seventh and eighth.
But, a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth from the Nationals’ offense, coupled with Soriano’s blown save, spoiled it for the Nationals, leaving them continuing their quest for .500 as they head to Georgia to face their NL East foe.