Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats and Giants play the rubber game at AT&T Park this afternoon.
If and when it does get underway, Jim Riggleman will have a totally new-look lineup out there against Giants left-hander Barry Zito. Justin Maxwell is in center field, Cristian Guzman is in right field, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn have been flip-flopped and Carlos Maldonado is behind the plate.
Check back for updates throughout...
NATIONALS at GIANTS
Where: AT&T Park
Gametime: 3:45 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Showers, 50 degrees, Wind 12 mph RF to LF
CF Justin Maxwell
RF Cristian Guzman
1B Adam Dunn
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Josh Willingham
SS Ian Desmond
2B Alberto Gonzalez
C Carlos Maldonado
P Craig Stammen
RF Andres Torres
2B Freddy Sanchez
3B Pablo Sandoval
1B Aubrey Huff
SS Juan Uribe
CF Aaron Rowand
LF John Bowker
C Eli Whiteside
P Barry Zito
2:32 p.m. -- Weather update: There has actually been a little clearing in the skies over the last 20-30 minutes, and the tarp just came off the infield. For now, they're saying we'll start on time.
3:45 p.m. -- Sure enough, we are underway on time, with a ball from Barry Zito to Justin Maxwell.
3:48 p.m. -- And just like that, the Nats take a 1-0 lead. Adam Dunn pounces on Zito's first-pitch fastball and deposits it above the right-field fence and into the "Levi's Landing" here at A&T Park. Dunn's team-leading, 10th homer of the season puts the Nats on top early.
4:00 p.m. -- Craig Stammen gave the run right back to the Giants in the bottom of the first, but it almost seems unfair to blame the pitcher for this one. Freddy Sanchez hit a bloop single to right. Then with two outs, Aubrey Huff hit what would normally be a routine grounder to the second baseman. Except Alberto Gonzalez was positioned way over to the right side of the infield and had no chance to make a play. Stammen did his job; he got a groundball. But that prolonged the inning and allowed Juan Uribe to smoke a line-drive single to left that brought home Sanchez and tied this game 1-1 after one.
4:03 p.m. -- No sooner did I type that than Josh Willingham mashed a 2-1 fastball from Zito into the left-field bleachers. The Hammer is on a tear right now. He's got 10 hits in his last 26 at-bats, three of them homers, two of them doubles, with eight RBI, seven walks and a .590 OBP over that span. Nats retake a 2-1 lead.
4:17 p.m. -- Make it 3-1 thanks to a fortuitous call by first-base ump Casey Moser. Moser called Maxwell safe on a grounder to third because Aubrey Huff's foot came off the bag while catching the throw from Sandoval. Technically, Moser was probably right. But it was real close. And usually you don't see that call unless it's blatantly obvious. The Nats, of course, will gladly take it. They lead 3-1 going to the bottom of the second.
4:37 p.m. -- I think we just saw how the little game "Flip" that several Nats play before BP can actually pay off. Alberto Gonzalez just made a nifty flip to Ian Desmond to start off a pretty, 4-6-3 double play to end the third and preserve the 3-1 lead. Stammen has pitched pretty well, recording six of nine outs on groundballs so far.
4:53 p.m. -- Stammen allowed a leadoff homer to Aubrey Huff in the fourth, but it didn't look like a terrible pitch, a sinker down and in. Stammen shook it off and went back to work, getting a double-play grounder out of Aaron Rowand and another groundball from John Bowker. 3-2 Nats through four.
5:11 p.m. -- Just when it looked like Stammen was in trouble -- allowing two walks in the fifth, including one to Barry Zito -- he got a big groundball out of Sandoval to end the inning. Stammen's at 70 pitches through five. No one warming in the pen, so he'll bat in the sixth and return to the mound for the bottom of the inning.
5:17 p.m. -- After the early outburst, the Nats have done very little with Zito. They've got three singles (one of them an infield hit) over the last four innings. They still lead 3-2, but with Stammen starting to show some cracks in the foundation and four more innings to go, it's a dangerous proposition to assume three runs wins this game.
5:22 p.m. -- Great job by Stammen in the sixth. Retired the side, all on groundouts, needed only 10 pitches to do it. Thirteen of 18 outs on the ground so far today.
5:32 p.m. -- Instant replay time! Adam Dunn's drive bounced off the top of the wall in right and was ruled a double. According to the locals, the ground rule says that's the right call. It would need to have hit off the green "roof" farther to the right to be a home run.
5:34 p.m. -- And the umps just confirmed it. Double for Dunn.
5:43 p.m. -- The Nats salvage one run out of the inning, thanks to Willingham's sac fly. So it's now 4-2 heading to the bottom of the seventh. Stammen coming back out to pitch, sitting on 80 pitches. Remember: Tyler Clippard pitched two innings last night, would think he's unavailable. Sean Burnett is currently warming up.
5:54 p.m. -- Things are getting hairy here, and very little of it is the fault of the Nats' pitching staff. Stammen departed after two batters in the seventh, the first of which reached on Adam Dunn's error. Sean Burnett entered and made a good, 1-2 pitch to Nate Schierholtz (a slider down and away). Schierholtz somehow went down, got the ball and drove it to center field for an RBI single. Burnett then broke Andres Torres' bat but still watched the ball fall into right field for a double. It's 4-3, tying run on third, go-ahead run on second, and Tyler Walker is now on to pitch.
5:57 p.m. -- There goes the lead. Walker falls behind Sanchez 2-0 and then leaves a tailing fastball over the plate, which Sanchez lines to left for a two-run single. The Giants now lead 5-4. Wow.
6:12 p.m. -- The Nats are down to their final three outs. Despite a leadoff single from Adam Kennedy in the eighth, Willie Harris hit into a double play and Roger Bernadina flied out to center. A game that tilted in the Nationals' favor not long ago is on the verge of turning into a loss.
6:21 p.m. -- Here we go: Ninth inning, down one. Maxwell, Morgan, Dunn and (possibly) Zimmerman against Giants closer Brian Wilson.
6:28 p.m. -- That'll do it. Wilson retires the side in the ninth, and the Nats drop a very winnable game, 5-4, and the series. They head to San Diego now for three this weekend.