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Samardzija sunk by slugging Nationals

Parra, Duggar club two-run homers to pull close in ninth
April 17, 2019

WASHINGTON -- It doesn’t seem to matter how well Giants righty Jeff Samardzija pitches against everyone else these days. When the Washington Nationals show up, things go sideways. On Wednesday, Samardzija gave up two home runs over his first five batters, en route to his first defeat of the season

WASHINGTON -- It doesn’t seem to matter how well Giants righty Jeff Samardzija pitches against everyone else these days. When the Washington Nationals show up, things go sideways.

On Wednesday, Samardzija gave up two home runs over his first five batters, en route to his first defeat of the season during the Giants’ 9-6 loss at Nationals Park.

Pinch-hit for by Pablo Sandoval in the top of the sixth in what was then a close game, Samardzija allowed four runs over five innings during an outing that spiked his ERA more than a point to 2.91.

It was Samardzija's seventh consecutive loss against the Nats, a streak that dates back to 2014, a season he began with the Cubs. His ERA in that span is 7.36, though he insisted after Wednesday’s outing that he hadn’t given much thought to those struggles.

“You’d have to fill me in on my results against Washington over the last few years,” Samardzija said. “I watch a little bit of film on the past, but mostly more current stuff. Every start is its own life, in its own way.”

And it’s not as if the same faces have been doing the damage vs. Samardzija. On Wednesday, Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick homered in the first before Adam Eaton singled to make it 4-0 after two. That trio entered 4-for-12 lifetime against Samardzija, without so much as an extra-base hit or a RBI -- Soto having never faced him.

“I say this all the time: Some things aren’t explained,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

The Nationals homered twice more off rookie Travis Bergen during a five-run seventh, insurance they would need following Gerardo Parra and Steven Duggar’s two-run shots off Austen Williams in the ninth.

That's more like it

San Francisco fell to 1-7 when an opponent scores four or more runs, and any promise from its ninth-inning surge should be tempered by the reality that it came against one of the lowest-leverage arms Washington had to offer.

That said, the Giants have now scored six runs in both games of this series ahead of Thursday’s rubber match. They scored six times or more just twice in their first 17 contests.

The tying run came to bat in the ninth after Williams exited. With one out, Buster Posey doubled and Brandon Belt walked vs. Nats closer Sean Doolittle.

“It was great to see,” Samardzija said. “Obviously, we’ve got a bunch of guys here that fight and play the whole nine. That goes without saying. It’s not surprising.”

Buster's back?

Posey finished 1-for-3 with a pair of walks, missing his first home run of the season by a couple feet and seeing another hit robbed by third baseman Anthony Rendon, who made a diving stop in the fifth.

Having made San Francisco's Opening Day roster following surgery to repair a torn labrum and remove bone spurs in his right hip last August, the six-time All-Star has had the slowest start of his big league career, batting .200 with one RBI.

Just maybe, though, this marked a step closer toward regaining his usual rhythm?

“So far this year, I’ll feel it for a few games and then I’ll kind of lose it,” Posey said. “I think it’s just a matter of staying positive and understanding it’s a process.”