The San Francisco Giants beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 today, thanks especially to Brandon Crawford, Eli Whiteside and Matt Cain.
All got key hits with Crawford playing strong defense and Cain pitching perhaps his best game of the season.
Right from the start, it was obvious this was going to be a strong outing from Cain.
He retired the first five batters he faced with relative ease.
The first baserunner he allowed only came on a well-executed bunt single by Danny Espinosa.
Cain’s first real mistake was throwing the ball away trying to pick off Espinosa, but he rectified this by striking out Rick Ankiel to end the inning.
With the way Cain was pitching, it did not look like he would need much run support to be successful.
Getting even a little support looked like it would be tough, though as Nationals starter Yunesky Maya was also pitching very well.
Through the first five innings, he allowed just two baserunners on singles by Aubrey Huff in the second and Crawford in the third.
However, Maya still only faced the minimum in that time as both were erased — Huff was doubled off first and Crawford was caught stealing.
The Giants finally broke through with a run in the sixth.
Crawford led off with a hard line shot to right fielder Laynce Nix that certainly had the makings of a hit had it not been caught.
Whiteside and Cain made up for it with back-to-back doubles to put the Giants on the board.
Both two-baggers came on the second pitch of their respective at-bats.
Washington wasted no time in tying things up, scoring in the very next half-inning.
Michael Morse led off the top of the seventh with a single and stole second. He came home on a two-out double by Ankiel.
It could have been worse, if not for Crawford laying out to rob Wilson Ramos of a hit.
He also made a good play an inning earlier.
The Giants, in turn, scored with two outs in the next half-inning.
Sean Burnett replaced Maya to start the frame.
Cody Ross got things going with a one-out single to left. He scored all the way from first on a two-out triple by Crawford. It was Crawford’s first triple in the majors.
Crawford came home on a base hit by Whiteside.
The bottom of the eighth featured an entertaining moment thanks to Giants’ third-base coach Tim Flannery and an opportunistic fan.
During his at-bat, Ross accidentally lost control of his bat. It went flying but stayed on the playing field. That it was still on the field did not matter to one spectator who heaved almost his entire body over the railing to grab the bat. However, as he rose back up, Flannery snatched it out of his hands and ran it back to its rightful owner, Ross.
When the top of the ninth came around, Cain was still in to try to finish what he started.
And he was just as sharp at the finish as he was at the start.
He retired all three Nationals hitters, fanning two of them.
The end of the game was particularly painful for Espinosa, the final batter.
Not only did he make the last out of the game by striking out, but when he swung, he put his hands right in the path of the ball and got hit. But because he swung, it was just a game-ending whiff. He walked off holding his arm in close to his body.
Cain’s pitching line for today: W, CG, 9 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K
Ankiel’s double was the only extra-base hit he gave up.
The Giants’ 7-8-9 hitters (Crawford, Whiteside and Cain) drove in all three of the team’s runs.
Crawford and Whiteside were the only Giants with multi-hit games, both going 2-for-3 with an extra-base hit, RBI and run. (Ian Desmond was the only National with more than one hit, going 2-for-4.)
The Giants start a four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds tomorrow at 7:15 p.m. PDT.
Probable Pitchers: Madison Bumgarner (2-7, 3.42) vs. Johnny Cueto (2-2, 2.27)