With the next nine games against the lowly Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates, now is the time to gain some serious ground on their NL West foes. On Monday night though, San Francisco played down to the level of their opponent and it cost them.
The game started on an ominous note for Morris in the bottom of the first. Alfonso Soriano, plunked with a pitch to get things started, moved to third on a single by Felipe Lopez. Following a stolen base by Lopez putting runners at second and third, Soriano came in to score on a groundout by Ryan Zimmerman. The Nationals weren’t finished as Nick Johnson lined a single to left, driving in Lopez to put Washington in front 2-0.
San Francisco’s offense answered right back in the second against Nationals starter Ramon Ortiz (7-9). After Steve Finley drew a one out walk, Pedro Feliz and Eliezer Alfonso hit back-to back singles bringing up Morris with the bases loaded. Morris would come through in the clutch, drilling a fastball over the head of center-fielder Ryan Church, knocking in Finley and Feliz to tie the score at 2. With one out, and runners at second and third, the Giants’ were primed for a big inning, but Randy Winn popped out and Shea Hillenbrand struck out swinging to end the threat.
Morris would breeze through the second, but then came the disastrous third inning. With one out, Lopez singled and Zimmerman walked putting runners at first and second setting the table for Johnson who delivered a RBI single bringing home Lopez. Following a walk to Austin Kearns that loaded the bases, Marlon Anderson drilled a single to right scoring a pair of runs. Ryan Church stepped to the plate next and blooped a double into right-center plating two more runs to give the Nationals a 7-2 lead.
That would be it for Morris (8-8) who just did not have it on this night as the Nationals battered him around for seven earned runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings.
Manager Felipe Alou summoned Kevin Correia from the bullpen and he stopped the bleeding. Correia was outstanding firing 4 2/3 scoreless innings to keep San Francisco close.
The Giants’ would gradually claw their way back into this one. Alfonzo cracked a solo homer to deep left in the third, making the score 7-3.
Durham continued his hot hitting belting a two-run shot in the fifth, and a solo jack in the eighth, to pull San Francisco within one run at 7-6.
Unfortunately, as has been the case so often this season after the Giants’ score a run to get a little closer, they gave that run right back in the eighth. Facing Jonathan Sanchez, Nick Johnson led off the inning with a single for his third hit of the game. Johnson moved to third on a single by Anderson and would later score when Church hit a sacrifice fly, giving the Nationals an 8-6 advantage.
Washington closer Chad Cordero came on in the ninth and the Giants’ did not go down without a fight. Alfonzo reached on Johnson’s fielding error and Mark Sweeney laced a base hit to right putting runners at first and second with nobody out. Any hope of a comeback quickly faded as Cordero retired Winn, Omar Vizquel, and Hillenbrand in succession to end the game.
Wednesday’s game is pivotal for San Francisco. The Giants’ cannot afford to drop another game to the last-place Nationals. They have to take advantage of this part of their schedule and start building momentum for the dog days of August. Noah Lowry (5-6, 4.45 ERA) will go up against Pedro Astacio (1-1, 5.75 ERA) @ 4:05 pm.
SFDugout's Player of the Game: Ray Durham continues to swing a hot stick for the Giants belting a pair of home runs and driving in three. Eliezer Alfonzo gets an honorable mention, hitting his seventh long ball of the season in the loss.
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