Williams meets the media after Nats are ousted from playoffs

The 96 victories the Nationals amassed this year, the 17-game bulge over the Braves in the National League East, all the hopes and dreams of a deeper run than in the 2012 postseason - all evaporated Tuesday night in a 3-2 loss to San Francisco in Game 4 of the National League Division Series.

The Giants advance to face the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. The Nationals go home.

nats-werth-disappointed-NLDS4-sidebar.jpgThe emotional swing in the decisive seventh inning was gut-wrenching. Any momentum the Nationals salvaged by a Bryce Harper homer into McCovey Cove that nearly conked an unsuspecting kayaker in the noggin and tied the game at 2-2 quickly disappeared. Reliever Aaron Barrett came in with runners on first and second and one down, walked Hunter Pence to load the bases and then uncorked a wild pitch to plate the tiebreaking run.

It almost got worse. The wild pitch came on a 2-1 offering to Pablo Sandoval, and when Barrett tried to throw high and outside for the intentional walk, he sailed the ball past catcher Wilson Ramos. Buster Posey scampered home from third, Ramos plucked the ball rebounding off the backstop and threw to Barrett, who tagged Posey out. The play withstood a video replay review, but the Giants had their one-run lead back.

The Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012. Maybe there's something to their even-year mastery of the majors.

There will be no Game 5 at Nationals Park on Thursday. Instead, the Nats will pack up tonight, fly back to D.C. and then disperse. There's sure to be a lot of reflection and introspection on that cross-country charter.

Nationals manager Matt Williams made his way to the interview room after the game at AT&T Park, and here's what he had to say:

On what he said to the team after the loss and how disappointing it was: "Well, I told them I'm proud of their effort. We established a way to go about the game in spring training and we accomplished that goal. We played the way we wanted to play and did a lot of things right. So, you know, it's tender and it's bitter and all of those things, but I'm proud of them. I'm proud of the way they went about it. With regard to the bullpen, you know, we had a chance to tie the game there on Bryce's homer and had it set pretty good. They got a couple of base hits and the wild pitch did us in. You know, that's the way the game goes sometimes and I'm proud of the way they have gone about it this year and they should be, too."

On how he chose which relief pitchers would work the seventh inning: "During the seventh inning? Because those are our seventh-inning guys. That's how we set this up. We had to two lefties at the top of the inning and if we got the righties, we were going to go with Barrett. That's what he's done for us all year long. We are certainly not going to use our closer in the seventh inning, so that's why we went with it."

On whether he was shocked by Gio Gonzalez's error that led to two unearned runs: "It's not shocking; it happens. The ball is hit back at him, the mound is chewed up. There's a huge hole in front of him. It's in between hops and he didn't catch it. So it's not shocking. It's disappointing thay he wasn't able to make that play. But we have to move on within the game after that. That's the way it is. That's baseball. Sometimes the ball bounces fine. Sometimes you don't make the play, sometimes you do. The bottom line to it was we were tied after six, so it's irrelevent at that point."

On whether he considered pitching Stephen Strasburg: "It's irrelevent. Did I have a scenario in mind when we were going to Stephen? No, it's irrelevent. Doesn't matter. He didn't pitch. ... It's emergency-only for Stephen tonight. We get into late innings, then he's our guy. He's only on three days' rest. Tanner (Roark) is rested and ready."

On whether he considered using Rafael Soriano in relief of Barrett sooner in the seventh: "I don't think so. Aaron's been doing that job for us all year long. He's a strikeout guy. He's got the ability to strike that guy out. Unfortunately, it was a wild pitch. So, you know, that happens. But he's been our guy that we've gone to in the middle of orders with every team that we've played all year long to get a big strikeout or get a big out."

On Gonzalez's performance: "Well, in a normal game, in a normal game and not an elimination game, he may still be in that game. But we know that if we lose it, then we go home. But I thought he was OK. You know, the unfielded bunt play was the one. But, you know, in a normal game, he may still be in there."

On what the baseball world thinks of Bryce Harper: "You know, I don't know. I know that we're proud of him. I know that much. I know that he's got great talent. I know that at this point he is healthy and certainly now, looking forward with great anticipation to next year. So I think he played really well in this series."

Nats express disappointment after season-ending 3-...
Nats' season ends with 3-2 loss in Game 4

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