SAN FRANCISCO Tuesday night was one strike away from being about how Stephen Strasburg outdueled Matt Cain in a meeting of staff aces. Two swings turned it into how Cain shook off a rocky first inning to keep the Giants close until they spun the late-inning drama they relish in a 10-inning, 4-2 win over the Nationals at AT&T Park.
Down 2-1 after Cain and Strasburg locked horns for seven innings, and down to their last strike in the ninth, the Giants tied the game on Gregor Blanco's RBI triple off Nationals closer Rafael Soriano. An inning later, Pablo Sandoval crushed Yunesky Maya's 1-0 pitch deep into the bleachers in right-center field for a two-run home run.
It was Sandoval's second career walk-off homer, both of which have come against the Nationals. Sandoval, who was sick enough with the flu to receive an IV before the game, gave the Giants their 13th comeback win of the season and sixth in their final at-bat.
"We love pressure," he said. "It's our favorite part."
Neither starter looked particularly ace-like in the first inning. Cain allowed a pair of RBI doubles and Strasburg threw 31 pitches and put four runners on, though none scored. But both recovered to go seven innings, combining for 14 strikeouts.
Cain gave up just one more hit, an Ian Desmond single in the fourth. Angel Pagan drove in Blanco with a two-out single in the second inning for the Giants' first run. Strasburg, like Cain, allowed only one more hit. Like Cain, he struck out four of the final six hitters he faced.
Encouraging for the Giants was the second consecutive strong outing from a starter after the rotation posted a 9.82 ERA on their recent 1-5 trip.
Ryan Vogelsong, of course, authored the first Monday night before suffering a fracture on his pitching hand that required surgery Tuesday.
"It's a hard thing to see Vogey go down," Cain said. "That's the hard thing with baseball is you have to kind of move on really fast."
Manager Bruce Bochy said Vogelsong is expected to miss six to eight weeks after having five pins inserted in the area of his pinky finger to address the dislocated knuckle and two fractures he suffered swinging at an inside pitch in the Giants' 8-0 win Monday. Bochy said the surgery "went well" and Vogelsong was "in a pretty good frame of mind."
No decisions had been made on filling Vogelsong's next rotation turn.
Along with Vogelsong, the Giants on Tuesday placed reliever Santiago Casilla (knee) on the disabled list.