Nats' season ends with 3-2 loss in Game 4

SAN FRANCISCO - Seven Giants hitters came to the plate in the bottom of the second inning. Only one hit the ball out of the infield.

And San Francisco has a 2-0 lead.

gonzalez-gio-red-side-pitching-sidebar.jpgGio Gonzalez could have had an inning-ending double play on Juan Perez's tapper back to the mound with one on and one out, but he couldn't handle the slow roller which had loads of spin on it, and it went for an error. Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong then dropped down a nice bunt which neither Gonzalez nor Anthony Rendon made a play on, loading the bases.

Gregor Blanco followed by taking a four-pitch walk with the bases loaded, giving the Giants the lead.

After a chat from Steve McCatty, Gonzalez settled down and limited the damage, preventing a monster Giants inning. As Tanner Roark warmed furiously in the Nationals bullpen, Gonzalez got Joe Panik to ground out to first and Buster Posey to ground out to third.

The Panik grounder pushed across another run, making it 2-0.

It sure could have been worse, given the jam Gonzalez worked into. That's the positive side. But it also leaves the Nats in a two-run hole in this one.

Gonzalez has thrown 35 pitches through two, while Vogelsong, who allowed a Jayson Werth walk in the first inning but hasn't surrendered a hit yet, has thrown 29 pitches.

Update: OK, let's play more positive/negative.

The positive: The Nats trimmed San Francisco's lead in half in the top of the fifth, with Bryce Harper's RBI double to left pushing across Ian Desmond to get Washington on the board. Desmond had reached on a single to left to open the inning, giving the Nats their first hit, and Harper worked a terrific at-bat, slapping a ball down the left field line on a 3-2 pitch to push Desmond across.

The negative: The Nats then couldn't move Harper over at all, with Wilson Ramos lining out softly to short and Asdrubal Cabrera grounding out to short. After pinch-hitter Nate Schierholtz walked, Denard Span grounded out to first, leaving two on and keeping it a 2-1 game.

The Nats continued to elevate Vogelsong's pitch count, and they got on the board, but that was a great chance to tie the game wasted.

Gonzalez is now done for the night, as Schierholtz pinch-hit for him with two outs in the fifth. Gonzalez went four innings, allowing four hits, two runs (both unearned), one walk and a strikeout.

It's Roark now for the Nats in the fifth.

Update II: Roark and Jerry Blevins pieced together a scoreless fifth, with Roark getting Pablo Sandoval to pop up with the bases loaded and a 2-0 count and Blevins then striking out Brandon Belt to leave the sacks packed.

It felt like it could have been a momentum-changing sequence, but Hunter Pence grabbed the momentum and tugged it right back to the Giants' side with a spectacular leaping grab against the right field wall to rob Jayson Werth of extra bases.

Pence got back to the track, extended fully and made the grab right as his body hit the wall. The Nats could've had the tying run in scoring position with just one out, but instead, they ended up going down in order, with Javier Lopez retiring Adam LaRoche to end the frame.

The Nats now have just nine outs to work with, and are still trailing 2-1.

Update III: Bryce Harper just murdered another baseball. And this ballgame is now tied.

Harper met Giants rookie Hunter Strickland yet again - the same pitcher he faced in Game 1 of this series when he crushed a third-deck homer - and the result was a same. An absolute moonshot to right.

This one barely stayed fair, but it did, and it landed in McCovey Cove, just the 104th ball in the ballpark's history to hit the water on the fly. Harper touched home to knot the game 2-2 and the Nationals' dugout exploded with emotion.

Matt Thornton takes over in the bottom of the seventh for the Nats. This series has been ridiculous, and more drama lies ahead.

Update IV: What an insane inning that was.

The Giants have the lead right back after Joe Panik came in from third on a bases-loaded wild pitch by Aaron Barrett with one out in the seventh. That came on a 2-1 pitch to Sandoval.

On the very next pitch, as the Nats tried to intentionally walk Sandoval to again load the bases, Barrett sent the ball to the backstop, and Buster Posey sprinted for home. Barrett got the throw back from Ramos, applied the tag and Posey was called out.

The play was reviewed, and the call stood. Rafael Soriano ended up retiring Brandon Belt to end the inning.

It's 3-2 Giants as we go to the eighth in this crazy ballgame.

Update V: The Nats' season has come to an end.

The Giants have won Game 4 by a 3-2 score, taking the best-of-five series three games to one.

It was quite a ride, and a very entertaining series between two very talented teams. In the end, the Giants made more plays when it mattered, and they will move on to the NLCS.

For the second time in three years, the Nats' season ends in the NLDS.

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