SAN FRANCISCO -- Sloppy defense and a non-homer call in the seventh inning proved to be costly for the Nationals, who lost to the Giants, 5-4, at AT&T Park on Thursday afternoon. Washington had a 4-2 lead entering the bottom of the seventh, but things started to unravel. With Craig Stammen on the mound, Giants left fielder John Bowker led off and hit what looked like a routine broken bat ground ball to first baseman Adam Dunn, but it went by Dunn for an error. Dunn said the broken bat was not the reason he was unable to make the play. "I thought that ball was hit harder than what it was," Dunn said. "I didn't even know Bowker broke his bat until afterward. I had more time than I thought I did."
Bengie Molina was at the plate as a pinch-hitter, when Bowker advanced to second on a passed ball by catcher Carlos Maldonado. After Molina grounded out, Stammen was taken out of the game in favor of left-hander Sean Burnett. The left-handed-hitting Nate Schierholtz, who had a .367 average against left-handed pitching entering the game, appeared as a pinch-hitter and singled to center field to drive in Bowker. "You tip your cap. It was a good pitch. It was actually off the plate," Burnett said. "He stayed on it and hit it up the middle. He did his job. Unfortunately, I didn't get the job done." Andres Torres followed. He, too, broke his bat and hit a ball that dropped in front of right fielder Justin Maxwell, who had a tough time handling the ball, and that allowed runners to be at second and third with one out. Torres was credited with a double on the play. "Broken bat is just bad luck, too, I guess. Combined with [the Schierholtz hit], it just looks pretty bad," Burnett said. "It's frustrating that I didn't get the job done." Nationals reliever Tyler Walker entered the game and found himself behind in the count, 2-0, to Freddy Sanchez, who took advantage and singled to left field, scoring Schierholtz and Torres to give San Francisco a one-run lead. "When you get behind in the count, you have to hit more of the plate. The ball went toward the middle of the plate," Walker said. "It was a poor pitch on my part. He made me pay for it. It's tough to swallow right now, but we'll get ready for tomorrow's game, get back out there and get the next guy out." Defense wasn't the only problem for the Nationals. They had a chance to score more than one run in the seventh inning. With Maxwell on first and one out, Dunn took a Barry Zito pitch and hit a ball that he thought was over the right-center-field wall for his second home run of the game. But the ball hit the white cement over the State Farm sign and second-base umpire Paul Nauert ruled that the ball was still in play and Dunn ended up with a double. Manager Jim Riggleman argued with first-base umpire Casey Moser that Dunn hit a home run. Moser and the rest of the umpiring crew huddled and then looked at the replay. A little over a minute later, the play stood. After the game, Riggleman said he agreed with the decision. "The ground rules were clear before the game. If it hits that white area, it's in play," Riggleman said. Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy: "I didn't think it was out. We had a break there because it was probably a foot away -- I don't know how far away it was from being a home run -- and that would have been a couple more runs. So we had a break there and it kept us in the game close enough to where we could come back." Bochy then decided to walk Ryan Zimmerman intentionally to load the bases with one out. But the Nationals were not able to break it open even though they scored one run on a sacrifice fly by Josh Willingham. After Willingham's at-bat, Ian Desmond struck out looking to end the inning. "It did [hurt not to add on runs]. It's something you have to do," Riggleman said. "You have to add on when you can. We did what we could do. We got the one, but we would have liked to have added a little more. It's the ground rules."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.