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Baggs' Instant Replay: Nationals 9, Giants 3

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Nationals 9, Giants 3

BOX SCORE
WASHINGTON It started well enough. Tim Lincecums scoreless innings streak reached 13 when he impressively carved through three dangerous hitters from the stretch Tuesday night.But there was no luck for Lincecum after that. Just plenty of mistakes, a career-worst eight runs allowed and enough explosive meetings of bat and ball in the nations capital to make you believe Independence Day arrived 24 hours ahead of time.The Giants and Nationals entered Tuesday night tied for the most victories in the National League. The Nats made easy work of Lincecum to take charge of the Senior Circuit in a rain-delayed, 9-3 victory at Nationals Park.Was it the mid-90s heat and humidity? Thats been the old standby for Lincecum in the past. But the longer his struggles go this season, the more it seems the familiar explanations just dont go deep enough.Lincecum gave up two runs in the second inning, got pounded in the third and retired just one batter in the fourth. He left them loaded for George Kontos, and after all were redeemed at the bettors window, Lincecum ended up matching his career worst with seven earned runs and establishing a new one with eight allowed in all.Lincecum watched the rest of the fourth inning, a forlorn figure leaning against the dugout rail. He was coming off seven scoreless innings against the Dodgers, which snapped his winless streak at 10 starts. Now he is bereft of momentum again, and hes got one more start before the All-Star break the first-half finale Sunday at Pittsburgh to figure out how to reinvent himself in the second half.Starting pitching reportLincecum (3-9) had made 171 starts in his major league career. He had never given up eight runs in a start. Heck, he probably didnt have one of those at the University of Washington, either.It all started with such promise. After Steve Lombardozzis leadoff single put Lincecum in the stretch, where he has struggled to make pitches, he executed very good sequences to get ahead of wunderkind Bryce Harper in a confrontation that ended with a fly out. After pitching backwards to Harper with early-count offspeed stuff, Lincecum ran his fastball in and out to strike out Ryan Zimmerman. Then he threw a changeup to strike out Michael Morse.But he began to show loose threads in the second inning, and the Nationals tugged at them. Danny Espinosa rocked Lincecum for an RBI double that hit near the top of the wall in dead center. Lincecum and catcher Hector Sanchez might have gotten too tricksy-cutesy with a first-pitch curveball to Jordan Zimmermann, a hanging blob that the opposing pitcher shot into right field for a double that scored Espinosa.Meanwhile, with the Giants making quick outs, Lincecum had little rest between innings. That might have contributed to a series of location mistakes in the third, although one small decision by the Nationals made a very big difference.Lincecum induced what would have been a double-play grounder from Morse, but Zimmerman was running with the 2-2 pitch. Shortstop Brandon Crawford had no choice but to throw to first base.That third out proved elusive, as Adam LaRoche doubled over center fielder Angel Pagans head on a high and outside fastball. Lincecum followed with a hanging, 0-1 curve that Ian Desmond attacked and sent into the left field seats for a two-run home run.Just like that, Lincecum and the Giants trailed 5-0.Perhaps Giants manager Bruce Bochy wanted Lincecum to get one more inning to save the bullpen, given the 11:05 a.m. game that awaits both teams on Wednesday. Or perhaps Bochy wanted to give Lincecum a chance to work on his delivery.Either way, the decision to send a stringy-haired, sweaty Lincecum out for the fourth inning turned out to be very bad, indeed. After retiring Zimmermann, Lincecum wrapped two walks around Harpers double and Bochy came to collect the ball with the bases loaded.Lincecum ended the day with a 6.08 ERA. He ranks 89th out of 90 major league pitchers that have made at least 15 starts. If not for Atlantas Mike Minor, Lincecum would rank as the worst pitcher in the major leagues by the stat that is most often used to define their performance.Bullpen reportKontos did Lincecum no favors. Neither did Gregor Blanco, who went to center field on the double-switch with Pagan getting an early exit.Kontos threw a fat 0-2 pitch while allowing a two-run single to Morse and Blanco made a terrible throw to the plate, allow Zimmerman to take third base. LaRoche followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Nats an 8-0 lead.At least Kontos struck out Ian Desmond, ensuring that Lincecums final run would be unearned. A small consolation.Clay Hensley, Brad Penny and others pitched and played baseball and such after that. Their deeds will not be chronicled here, but check the box score if you must.At the plateThe Giants will miss both of Washingtons All-Star starting pitchers in Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, but Zimmermann (5-6) reminded why he has a lower ERA than either of them.He gave up hits to the leadoff batter in three of his first four innings, including doubles to Pablo Sandoval and Melky Cabrera. But he did what Lincecum could not, executing pitches to keep the Giants off the board.A yippy throw from third baseman Ryan Zimmerman opened the door for a two-run rally in the fifth inning. After Hector Sanchez reached on the error, the Giants received consecutive singles from Crawford and Nate Schierholtz (who entered with Kontos on a double switch). Blanco followed with a broken-bat hit that scored a pair.With no outs, the Giants had thoughts of a comeback. But Ryan Theriot, Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey went down in order.Give Crawford his due, though. He turned in his second three-hit game in a span of six starts.In fieldLets focus on off-the-field stuff. Such as how Giants manager Bruce Bochy pulled most of his starters off the field.Hey, at least the Giants will be a tad better rested for Wednesdays 11:05 a.m. first pitch, which is more appropriate for a college football game. Pablo Sandoval and Cabrera were gone in the fifth inning. Posey, the first baseman, was out in the sixth.By the end, the Giants 3-4-5 hitters were Justin Christian, Joaquin Arias and Emmanuel Burriss.Poor Hector Sanchez had to catch the whole way.AttendanceThe Nationals announced 36,985 paid. For once, the actual attendance seemed even larger. Theyre getting behind this team of theirs here. The lower sections remained well populated even after an 85-minute rain delay in the seventh inning. (The sweet, sulfurous lure of postgame fireworks might have had something to do with that.)Up nextThe Giants will be quaffing many caffeinated beverages as they continue their series in the District with an 11:05 a.m. first pitch on Wednesday. (Thats 8:05 a.m. back in the Bay Area.) Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (10-4, 2.85) gets the Independence Day start against right-hander Edwin Jackson (4-4. 3.57).

Durable Longoria ready for additional boost from ballpark, Giants fans

Durable Longoria ready for additional boost from ballpark, Giants fans

SAN FRANCISCO — The field at AT&T Park is covered with patches and small piles of dirt right now, showing the signs of a winter hosting holiday parties and concerts, and a week with plenty of rain. 

For Evan Longoria, though, that grass was a beautiful sight.

A month after a trade that had him switching coasts, Longoria was introduced at a press conference at AT&T Park and ran the usual gauntlet with team employees and season-ticket holders. He spent some time this week looking for housing in the Bay Area, but soon he’ll be back in Scottsdale, getting to know new teammates and preparing his body for the 2018 season. 

Longoria said his workouts have been a bit different with a new staff, but the goal remains the same. He is a player who prides himself on taking the field every day, and that’s one of the traits that drew the Giants to Longoria. He has played at least 156 games in five consecutive seasons, and 160 in four of those seasons. 

It’s no accident that Bruce Bochy has mentioned durability during every media session this season. Andrew McCutchen has a similar track record, and the Giants lineup certainly could use some stability, especially at third base, where seven different players made double-digit starts last season. Longoria will change that. 

“I have a desire to play every day, and I think that that is infectious,” he said. “Players that may feel the grind of a long season or might be in a little bit of a funk offensively or defensively or with pitching, something like that can give you a boost when you have guys around that you know come to play and compete on a daily basis, no matter what the circumstance is.”

[RELATED: Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster]

For Longoria, who turned 32 early in the offseason, the circumstance has changed for the better. After years on the unforgiving turf at The Trop, he comes to a park and division featuring nothing but natural grass. 

“I hope it helps,” he said. “Going on the road (with the Rays), my body definitely felt better when I played on grass. I’m sure that it will help. It’s definitely not going to be a negative. Not playing on the turf anymore is something that crossed my mind as soon as the trade happened.”

Longoria expects to benefit from another aspect of AT&T Park, too. The Rays finished dead last in the majors last year with an average of 15,670 fans per game. Even though their sellout streak ended, the Giants still had an average of more than 40,000 per night. Asked about playing outdoors, Longoria smiled and added, “in front of fans.”

“The environment here is obviously much different, so it’s going to be nice to step into that on a daily basis and play in front of a fan base that’s obviously very storied,” he said. “It helps with energy. It helps with motivation.”

McCutchen ready for more conversations with 'Steve the Seagull' at AT&T Park

McCutchen ready for more conversations with 'Steve the Seagull' at AT&T Park

Andrew McCutchen has been one of the best players in the National League for years now. The 31-year-old is a five-time All-Star and was named the 2013 NL MVP. 

Not only do his stats stand out, McCutchen is also one of the most entertaining players in baseball. And that's clearly going to continue in San Francisco. 

On Thursday, McCutchen was asked about the famous seagulls of San Francisco flying around the outfield at AT&T Park. 

"I definitely made a few friends out there over the years. Steve the Seagull out there, I know him," McCutchen said on KNBR. "He comes in every now and then. We have a little pow-wow when I come to San Francisco. Yeah, we get along well, me and the guys, me and the birds. They know when to come in that's for sure." 

Denard Span, who the Giants traded to acquire Evan Longoria, had a much different relationship with the seagulls. 

McCutchen is clearly the opposite of Span in this regard though. He seems about as calm as can be when it comes to the birds paying him a visit. 

"They chill, we have some conversations. It's all good," says McCutchen. 

One other aspect McCutchen can't wait for in the outfield at AT&T Park, is getting to know all the fans. Specifically, not being a part of a special chant Giants fans have for opposing outfielders. 

"I'm lookin' forward to fans not callin' me bums anymore," McCutchen said with a laugh. "I'm glad I'm on the winning side. I'm glad I'm on the San Francisco Giants side. I can't wait to meet all the fans."