Giants Struggle All Over, Lose to Nationals in Crucial Series Opener

SAN FRANCISCO -- It was a moment that surely wasn't noticed by most of the 32,000 at Oracle Park on Monday night, but it tells you all you need to know about the Giants' first night back home. 

Pitching coach Curt Young walked slowly out to the mound to give momentarily wild right-hander Reyes Moronta a pep talk with one out in the eighth inning. Behind Moronta, the "MVR" ticker on the new $10 million scoreboard switched from "1" to "0." 

For the first time in two seasons since MLB limited teams to six mound visits, the Giants ran out. Young was a busy man as the mound visits remaining ticked down, but manager Bruce Bochy, hitting coach Alonzo Powell and the rest of the staff could have used just as much time with the players had they been given an opportunity. This was an ugly one in every respect, a 4-0 loss to the Washington Nationals that brought memories of April and May flooding back.

There was no offense, sloppy defense, and a pitching staff that walked eight and needed 137 pitches -- 98 by Jeff Samardzija -- to get through the first five innings. 

"It was one of those nights," Bochy said after the game. "We had a hard time finding the strike zone. It hasn't happened very often -- we've done a good job of that. It was an off night. There were some long innings there for everybody."

This is a huge week for the Giants, with the Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies -- two teams ahead of them in the wild-card standings -- visiting, and similar matchups elsewhere across the NL. It is Scoreboard Watching Season, but the one at Oracle told an ugly story. 

The Giants lineup couldn't bring anything across against right-hander Erick Fedde, who entered with a 4.67 ERA. Samardzija's four long frames were followed by Sam Coonrod's 39-pitch fifth. 

Kevin Pillar made a spectacular diving catch in left-center but later lost a fly ball in the light evening sky. That kept one rally going. In the top of the ninth, the Nationals scored an insurance run when Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto pulled off a double steal with two outs. Buster Posey winged the ball to Brandon Crawford, who threw it back home to Posey, who whipped it back to short. Both runners were safe. 

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The end result was a seventh loss in 11 games for the Giants, who returned home and fell back below .500. 

"To stay that hot (as we were) for three months would be a pretty remarkable thing," Samardzija said. "We just need to keep our heads on straight."

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