Trying to turn the page

The Nationals had the last four days to look ahead to this afternoon's ballgame. The last two and a half weeks, if you count the time since they clinched the National League East title.

They had a couple of days to wonder about whether they would face the Giants or the Pirates, and a couple more to map out how they might match up against San Francisco.

Now they have less than 24 hours to turn the page and move on to a crucial Game 2.

In the regular season, the focus is on the big picture. You never put too much emphasis on one game, because the ultimate goal is to have a good enough record after game No. 162. Now, in the postseason, every game means so much. And with the Nats losing the first game of their National League Division Series matchup with the Giants 3-2, they now have to quickly flush this one and turn their attention to Tim Hudson and Game 2.

How do they do that, exactly, after a hard-fought, one-run loss in the series opener?

"Well, we've got no choice," first baseman Adam LaRoche said. "Game 1 is big, obviously. Game 2 is bigger."

One might think that it would be tougher to move past a tough loss in the postseason, given the magnitude each game holds. Reliever Tyler Clippard said he actually thinks it's the opposite.

"I think it's a little bit easier in the sense that you kind of know you have to," Clippard said. "It's just one of those things. Obviously, you want to win every game, but it's baseball. We've got a long series ahead of us, and I think we realize that. I don't think we're too worried about it."

harper-run-with-bat-red-sidebar.jpgThe Nationals battled tonight, after falling behind 3-0 going to the bottom of the seventh. They plated two runs on Bryce Harper's mammoth solo shot into the third deck in right ("It was incredible," Clippard said. "The roof blew off this place.") and Asdrubal Cabrera's solo shot just two batters later.

They put the potential tying run in scoring position with one out in the eighth. They clawed back into the game and gave themselves a shot to tie it late. It didn't happen, but the fight was there.

All season long, the Nats have been a team that has prided itself on winning series. Lose the opener? No problem. Take the series and move on.

That mentality still applies now, players say.

"I think that's part of it," LaRoche said. "And also the fact that we've lost some games and bounced back and gone on a tear. Again, that was regular season. Now we've just got to do it."

"We've fought all year to win series and that's what we're going to try to do," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "We've fought back in games. We made an attempt to do that today."

Here's one stat that works in the Nats' favor as we look ahead to tomorrow: They haven't lost two straight games in nearly a month. The last time it happened was all the way back on Sept. 5-6.

Their longest losing streak all season, over the course of those 162 games, was four. They only lost three straight five times.

It isn't easy to move past a postseason loss. It might be tougher when there were opportunities there late in what ended up being a one-run game, and they were opportunities missed.

And the Nats are aware Madison Bumgarner (who posted a 2.12 ERA in his final 10 regular season starts and spun a complete game shutout in the Giants' wild card win) is looming in Game 3.

But the thinking now isn't on tonight. It isn't on Bumgarner or Game 3. It's on getting ready for tomorrow, and preparing as best as possible for that battle.

"It's over," Bryce Harper said of today's game. "It was over that last pitch. Just got to come back and try and get that W tomorrow and go 1-1. We can't go 0-2 into San Fran. That's tough. We've got to get that W tomorrow and get it going."

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