San Francisco Giants

Nationals hand Giants, Vogelsong most lopsided loss of season

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants and Nationals entered the opener of a four-game series Monday night as arguably the hottest two teams in the National League, with the Giants having won 10 of 12 games and Washington seven of their last nine. Round one went to new manager Matt Williams' club in resounding fashion, with the Nationals handing the Giants and Ryan Vogelsong their worst loss of the season, 9-2.

"Just a bad night, man," Vogelsong said.

There haven't been many recently, for the Giants or the veteran right-hander. Vogelsong entered the game having won his last three decisions, and the Giants were 9-3 this season in his starts. But the Nationals knocked him around for a season-high six earned runs on nine hits -- six of them for extra bases, which matched Vogelsong's career high.

"He was up a bit more than what we're used to," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's been throwing the ball so well, and the cutter was staying up on him. Made some really good pitches at times, and he had some borderline pitches where I think he was a little frustrated. But he go the ball up and this team we're playing has been swinging the bat well, and they took advantage of him."

Bochy there was likely referencing the third inning, when Vogelsong retired the first two batters before Adam LaRoche doubled. Vogelsong then walked Ryan Zimmerman on a very close full-count pitch and walked Wilson Ramos to load the bases ahead of shortstop Ian Desmond, who singled for two of his five RBIs on the night.

Asked if he felt he was dealing with a tight strike zone, Vogelsong answered: "I can't say anything about that, because the commissioner's office will call me. But their guy was pitching to it, too. So you've got to throw the pitches where you want to and see what happens."

Vogelsong settled down some after that inning, retiring nine of the next 10 batters, but he allowed the first two hitters to reach in the seventh to bring Bochy out to get him. Both of those runners scored as the Nationals scored five times in the inning with George Kontos on the mound in relief.

"I threw some really good pitches and I threw some really bad ones," Vogelsong said. "It was just one of them night. I'm a perfectionist and I want to be perfect every time. But in this game sometimes you just have nights like this where it just isn't your night."

While there has been a lot of talk about the Giants' lineup being deeper this season, the Nationals' merits a similar description. Consider their respective 7-8 hitters on Monday. The Giants' Brandon Crawford and Brandon Hicks entered with a combined 15 homers and 53 RBIs. The Nationals' Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa had a combined 19 home runs and 54 RBIs, and padded the latter total with Desmond's big night.

"I mean, they've got some guys in there that can swing the bat, and they're hot right now so that changes things," Vogelsong said. "But I felt like I had a pretty good game plan going into it and just didn't make enough good pitches, really."

Bochy pointed out the Nationals are coming off a series in which they "swung the bats well" taking two of three in San Diego, another park that's friendlier to pitchers. They're doing so without Bryce Harper, and they just got Ryan Zimmerman back Tuesday from the disabled list, so there may be room for improvement as well.

Tomorrow's print story goes heavy on Stephen Strasburg, who held the Giants to a run on four hits in six innings while striking out seven to improve his N.L.-leading total this season to 108. Strasburg in his career is now 3-0 against the Giants in four starts with a 1.80 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 25 innings.

It probably goes without saying, but if Vogelsong was going to have an off-night, it was not ideal for it to come with the Giants facing Strasburg. The result was a 9-1 Nationals lead in the middle of the seventh inning, which allowed Williams to take Strasburg out after just 88 pitches and had a steady stream of fans heading for the exits early -- a rare sight at AT&T Park, especially so far this year.

Those who left early didn't miss much, but there were some signs of life provided by the Giants' reserves in the eighth. Bochy emptied his bench late, and Juan Perez, Joaquin Arias and Ehire Adrianza all collected singles in the eighth inning, with Arias' scoring Perez for the Giants' second run.

Angel Pagan also pinch-hit in the ninth after sitting out with a right shin contusion. Bochy said Pagan "wanted to hit," and that the appearance bodes well for Pagan likely returning to the lineup Tuesday after missing two starts.

Bochy was asked if he could think of any reason the Nationals might have intentionally thrown at Michael Morse, who was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning. His response: "I don't know what it would be. I can't answer that."

Morse had just talked Monday afternoon about how he still has friends in the Washington clubhouse from playing four seasons there, so it would seem odd if it was intentional. By coincidence, this comes a day after the Mets' Zack Wheeler hit Hunter Pence with a pitch that drew an angry reaction from Pence. Bochy was asked about that play before Monday night's game and said the Giants have a good idea of why Pence was hit, but declined to say what that was.

The latest round of N.L. All-Star voting was released Monday afternoon, and the Giants don't have any players leading at their respective positions. The closest is Pablo Sandoval -- he's in third place, but only about 140,000 votes behind David Wright at third base.

Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford are both second at their positions, but Posey trails Yadier Molina by more than 500,000 votes, and Crawford is even further behind Troy Tulowitzki, who's the top vote-getter at any position.

After a rare blowout, the Giants will try to regroup behind Madison Bumgarner in game two Tuesday. The Nationals counter with right-hander Doug Fister in a rematch of Game Two of the 2012 World Series, when Fister was on the Tigers. First pitch at 7:15 p.m.