On Monday, Giants’ GM Brian Sabean said that his team better turn things around in a hurry before they turn into a sinking ship. He may want to amend that statement because San Francisco’s ship has more holes than the Titanic and is sinking fast.
Ryan Zimmerman drove in a pair of runs and Livan Hernandez (9-8) won for the second time in as many starts against his former team as the Nationals defeated the Giants’ 4-1, sending them to their ninth straight loss.
The Giants’ inability to do the little things like driving guys in from third with less than two outs has been their biggest achillies heel as of late. That trend continued to plague them in the first inning. Randy Winn golfed a double deep to right-center to lead off the game and Omar Vizquel followed with a base hit to right, putting runners on first and third with no outs. All San Francisco needed to get on the board was a fly ball to the outfield. Sounds like a simple task right? Not with this team. Mark Sweeney hit a grounder back to Hernandez who caught Winn off the bag at third for the first out, and Moises Alou came up next and grounded into an inning ending double play, squelching the rally.
Washington on the other hand had no such trouble with execution in the top of the third. Brian Schneider singled to center, and then moved to second on a balk by Giants’ starter Matt Cain. After moving to third on a grounder by Hernandez, Schneider scored on Alfonso Soriano’s sacrifice fly to right, giving the Nationals a 1-0 advantage.
San Francisco squandered yet another chance to get on the board in the fifth. Eliezer Alfonzo lined a one out single to center and moved to second when Cain laid down a sacrifice bunt. That was as far as Alfonzo would get, as Winn struck out to end the threat.
Despite the lack of run support Cain kept the Giants’ close limiting the Nationals to just three hits and one run through the first five innings before running into trouble in the sixth. Following a walk by Felipe Lopez, Ryan Zimmerman smoked a base hit to right putting runners at the corners with nobody out and Washington appeared headed for a big inning. With his back up against the wall, Cain buckled down, getting Nick Johnson to hit into a double play driving in Lopez, but the scoring ended there however, as Austin Kearns struck out for the final out of the frame.
Although he was saddled with the loss, Cain (7-8) turned in another solid performance allowing only two runs on four hits, while fanning seven, in seven innings of work.
Ray Durham, who has been one of the few Giants’ to come through in the clutch over the last week delivered once again in the sixth, knocking in Vizquel with a RBI single to pull San Francisco within 2-1.
Any momentum that the Giants’ may have gained in that inning quickly flew right out the window in the eighth when reliever Vinnie Chulk gave up a two-run double to Zimmerman, putting the Nationals in front 4-1.
In the bottom half of the inning, San Francisco had one last chance to put some runs on the board, but they failed once again they failed. After Vizquel and Moises Alou walked to put runners on first and second with two outs, Durham stepped to the plate and was unable to bring the runs home as he struck out swinging.
As has been the case so often during the current losing streak, this game was marked by a slew of missed opportunities for San Francisco. Until the Giants’ work on the fundamental things and start capitalizing on the chances their opponents give them this team is not going to win many ballgames. The distressing thing is that they are playing this badly against the worst teams in the National League which begs the question, can we really expect this team to improve if they can’t even beat teams like the Nationals and Pirates? One can only hope that the Giants’ snap out of this funk quickly and turn things around before it’s too late.
SFDugout's Player of the Game: Matt Cain threw seven solid innings allowing just two runs on four hits despite taking the loss. Ray Durham continues to deliver, coming through with an RBI single in the sixth to drive in the Giants’ only run.
Notes: Bonds was removed from the lineup with a sore knee. His status is day-to-day…… Jamey Wright will have his start skipped Friday and will pitch out of the pen to help the tired bullpen….. Matt Morris will start on his regular four days rest on Friday.
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