SAN FRANCISCO -- There has been a sense of inevitability with these Giants, regardless of the score or situation. The comeback is coming, and then the win.
The magic dried up Tuesday night, as the Giants wasted one opportunity after another while falling 2-1 to the Washington Nationals. The Giants went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and failed to bring a man on base across in seven of their last eight innings. Against Doug Fister and a tough Nationals bullpen, the big hit never came, even as the dugout kept expecting it.
"Guys have been doing such a great job of finding a way to get that hit, but tonight it eluded us," manager Bruce Bochy said. "You're still thinking we're going to find a way to get it done.
"We've done such a good job of it. We've had so many timely hits from everybody that you think it's going to happen again. Hey, we came up short."
The starting pitching matchup, a rematch of Game 2 of the 2012 World Series, lived up to the hype. As they did that October night, Fister, then with the Detroit Tigers, and Madison Bumgarner carried their teams late into the night. Fister, a native of Merced, is now a National and part of a deep staff -- and he might be the hottest of the bunch. Tuesday's win was his fifth straight, and he has a 1.95 ERA over those five starts. The Giants never really had Fister on the ropes Tuesday, but they threw plenty of punches.
Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse opened the fourth with back-to-back singles but were stranded. Sandoval had a three-hit night, the last of which was a leadoff double in the sixth. He was thrown out at the plate on Brandon Crawford's two-out single to right. Brandon Hicks drew a leadoff walk in the seventh but was caught leaning on Angel Pagan's liner to third baseman Anthony Rendon that turned into an inning-ending double play.
Bochy said that was one of the few plays he would have liked to have back. The rest of the night, the Giants just ran into a buzz saw. The Nationals have won nine of 11, and they took a 2-0 lead with four singles and a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. That was the lone blemish for Bumgarner, who scattered eight hits and struck out five in seven innings.
"I felt pretty good," Bumgarner said. "Usually when you pitch a game like that, you've got a pretty good chance. It seemed like every time we hit a ball good, it was right at them."
A well-hit ball might have turned the tide in the eighth, when Buster Posey singled with one out and Sandoval drew a walk. But Morse struck out in a tense battle with former teammate Tyler Clippard. Morse has had as many big hits this season as any Giant, but he waved through a 93 mph fastball on a 3-2 count.
"It was a classic battle," Bochy said. "He came up a little short there, but he's won that battle so many times for us. We're used to it, but you have to give (Clippard) credit."
The Giants wouldn't score in the eighth, but Crawford led off the ninth with a triple and raced home on a groundout by Hicks. As AT&T Park rocked, pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez popped up and Pagan flied out.
The Giants dropped back-to-back games for the first time since May 16-17. You have to go back to April 21-22 for the last time they failed to score more than two runs in consecutive games.
"Looking back on it, we've definitely been on a pretty good roll," Bumgarner said. "We've got to put this behind us."
Casilla threw a bullpen session Monday and tested his hamstring during fielding drills Tuesday afternoon. He said his hamstring feels "very good" and he's ready to return to action. If Casilla makes it back in time for the next trip, he'll have spent less than a month on the disabled list. When he crumpled while running the bases at Coors Field last month, the Giants feared Casilla might be done for the year.
"I thought the worst when he went down," Bochy said. "He was rolling around and screaming in pain when I got there, and I thought something detached from the bone. To get a second-degree strain, that was good news. Still, I thought it would take a little longer. It's a credit to the kind of shape he's in."
Washington (Tanner Roark 4-4) at Giants (Matt Cain 1-3),
7:15 p.m. CSNBA