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Giants 4, Nationals 2 (10)

The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gregor Blanco rescued the San Francisco Giants from the edge of defeat with a ninth-inning RBI triple and Pablo Sandoval belted a two-run, game-winning home run in the 10th as the Giants rallied to defeat the Washington Nationals 4-2 on Tuesday night.

In what began as a pitchers' duel between Washington's Stephen Strasburg and San Francisco's Matt Cain, the Giants scored three times against the Nationals' bullpen after being limited to one run for the first 26 outs of the game.

Sandoval's second career walk-off homer came off minor-league call-up Yunesky Maya (0-1) and followed a one-out single by Marco Scutaro, who earlier extended his National League-best hitting streak to 19 games.

The homer was Sandoval's eighth of the season and gave the Giants a 2-0 start to the three-game series following a 1-5 road trip last week. The series finale is Wednesday.

Jeremy Affeldt (1-0), the fifth Giants pitcher, got the win with a perfect top of the 10th.

In losing a fourth consecutive game, the Nationals scored twice on three hits off Cain in the first inning, but added only two more hits over the final nine innings.

The Nationals had been shut out on three hits by the Giants' Ryan Vogelsong and four relievers in Monday's series opener.

Strasburg appeared on the verge of running his career record to 3-0 against San Francisco and beating Cain for the second time as the Nationals held a 2-1 lead with the Giants down to their last at-bat. But Blanco lashed a two-out triple off closer Rafael Soriano over Bryce Harper's head in right field, scoring pinch-runner Andres Torres with the tying run.

The Nationals, who entered the game with the second-worst team average in the National League, did nothing to help that .227 mark. But three of their hits came in the first, including RBI doubles by Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond after Harper had sacrificed Denard Span into scoring position.

Angel Pagan's two-out single in the second inning scored Blanco with the Giants' first and only run until the ninth.

Harper, who had only three sacrifice bunts in 597 plate appearances as a rookie last season, also was called upon to lay one down in the eighth. He did so successfully again, moving Span to third with one out. But after Zimmerman was intentionally walked, Giants relievers Javier Lopez and Jean Machi pitched out of trouble, stranding Span at third.

Coming off his longest outing of the season, an eight-inning homecoming in San Diego last Thursday, Strasburg was pulled after throwing 108 pitches in seven innings. He struck out seven and walked three.

Cain, who had won his last three starts after going winless in April, rebounded from the two-run first inning to shut out the Nationals in the second through seventh. He stranded the bases loaded in the fourth in his only spot of trouble after the first and finished with seven strikeouts in seven innings, walking two.

The two runs over seven innings improved Cain's May ERA to 3.45 after he'd been cuffed around at a 6.49 clip in his six April starts.

The Opening Day starters settled down after shaky starts.

Clearly expecting a pitchers' duel from the get-go, Nationals manager Davey Johnson had Harper bunt following Span's game-opening single. It worked. Span scored from second on Zimmerman's double, and the slugging third baseman in turn came around on a two-out double by Desmond.

The Giants put six runners on base in the first two innings but scored just once against Strasburg. A sacrifice bunt by Cain helped produce the run, which was the product of the two-out single by Pagan that plated Blanco in the second inning.

NOTES: Broken hands factored into multiple transactions made by both teams Tuesday. ... Looking to replace injured reliever Ryan Mattheus, the Nationals called up two pitchers from Class AAA Syracuse, LH reliever Fernando Abad and RHP Maya, a starter who figures to be used in relief if Ross Detwiler (strained oblique) is able to make his next start Sunday. ... Fifth OF Eury Perez was sent to Syracuse to make room for the second pitcher. ... Mattheus, who suffered a fractured knuckle at the base of his right ring finger when he punched a locker in San Diego on Sunday, went on the disabled list and returned to Washington to determine if surgery is necessary. ... The Giants' Ryan Vogelsong underwent surgery that included having screws inserted into his right hand after he broke two bones (one in his pinkie finger, the other in the hand below the finger) and dislocated the knuckle below the pinkie when hit by a Craig Stammen fastball during a swing Monday night. He was placed on the DL; his recovery time was estimated at 6-8 weeks. ... With a day off Thursday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced the team has elected to postpone a decision on Vogelsong's replacement in the starting rotation. The Giants made replacing reliever Santiago Casilla, who also went on the DL with recurring pain in his right knee, a higher priority, summoning RHP Sandy Rosario from Class AAA Fresno. 1B Brett Pill also came north, taking Vogelsong's spot on the active roster. ... The series finale Wednesday afternoon pits a pair of former first-round draft picks, lefties Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals and Madison Bumgarner of the Giants.
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