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Nationals 2, Giants 1

The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO - Ian Desmond's single scored Bryce Harper from second base with one out in the 10th inning Wednesday as the Washington Nationals avoided a sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants with a 2-1 victory at AT&T Park.

Harper, who earlier had homered, got the game-winning uprising going with a one-out double to right field against the sixth Giants pitcher, left-hander Jeremy Affeldt (1-1).

After Ryan Zimmerman was intentionally walked, Desmond sliced a single to right field, and the speedy Harper slid home easily ahead of Hunter Pence's throw.

Nationals closer Rafael Soriano, who blew a save in Tuesday's 4-2, 10-inning loss, recorded his 13th save with a 1-2-3 last of the 10th, ending the Giants' five-game home winning streak. He got Marco Scutaro to fly out to the warning track in left field to end the game, ending the Giant's 19-game hitting streak on a 0-for-3 day.

Tyler Clippard (3-1), who retired the Giants in order in the ninth to force extra innings, got the win for the Nationals.

Harper's double capped a bounce-back game for the self-proclaimed goat of Tuesday's Nationals loss. He provided the team's only other scoring with a sixth-inning homer and helped short-circuit the Giants' game-tying rally in the eighth with a diving catch in right field.

Harper's homer, his 12th of the season, led off the Washington sixth after Giants starter Madison Bumgarner shut out the Nationals on three hits through five innings. It was his second homer in five games since crashing into the right-field fence in Dodger Stadium on May 13, causing him to sit out four of the next five contests.

The opposite-field shot by the left-handed hitter came on a 1-2 pitch after Bumgarner had struck him out and retired him on a lazy flyball to right field in his previous at-bats.

The home run also was the Nationals' first in the three-game set, allowing them to extend a streak in which they've belted at least one homer in 71 consecutive series. That matches the all-time franchise record set in Montreal in 1998-99.

Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez pitched 7 1/3 innings, leaving after issuing his second walk of the game. Right-hander Drew Storen walked the first batter he faced, Marco Scutaro, before surrendering a game-tying single to left field by Buster Posey.

It took two defensive gems in order for the Nationals to retain the tie. Harper, playing right field, charged in to make a diving catch on Pence's bid for a tie-breaking single. Then first baseman Adam LaRoche dove to his right to short hop a liner by pinch-hitter Brandon Belt, forcing out Posey at second to end the inning.

Bumgarner went seven innings, giving up the one run on just four hits. He struck out five and walked two.

Gonzalez was facing a Giants starting lineup missing the previous two nights' heroes - Belt, who had four hits and scored four runs in Monday's 8-0 win, and Pablo Sandoval, whose two-run homer ended Tuesday's 4-2, 10-inning victory. Belt complained of a stiff back Tuesday night; Sandoval has been battling flu-like conditions for two days.

Sandoval, a switch-hitter whose home run Tuesday came from the left side of the plate, pinch-hit right-handed for reliever Javier Lopez leading off the bottom of the eighth against Gonzalez. He grounded out to third.

Gonzalez was pitching in the San Francisco Bay area for the second time since being dealt by the Oakland A's to Washington during the 2011 off-season. He received 14 runs of support in his first homecoming last August, but wasn't as fortunate this time around.

Then again, that's what you get when the team with the National League's second-lowest average (.226) goes up against a pitcher allowing opponent to hit just .214 against him. Other than the Harper home run, the Nationals only got two runners as far as second base against Bumgarner, both with two outs.

NOTES: Harper met privately with Soriano before the game to iron out their differences over comments Soriano made about Harper's positioning on Gregor Blanco's game-tying, ninth-inning triple Tuesday night. The play resulted in Soriano suffering his second consecutive blown save. ... The Giants were looking for their fifth series sweep of the young season. They've also already been swept three times. ... After a travel day Thursday, the Nationals open a five-game homestand Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies, with Jordan Zimmermann seeking his eighth win. ... The Giants also have Thursday off. Their six-game homestand continues Friday against Colorado in a rematch of a Tim Lincecum-Tyler Chatwood pitching matchup that resulted in a 10-2 Rockies win Saturday night. ... Belt and Sandoval are expected back in the starting lineup Friday. ... Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti will be inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in ceremonies Thursday. Righetti, a left-handed pitcher who grew up in San Jose, pitched 16 major-league seasons.
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