by Anthony Amobi, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON - Tyler Clippard, who started so well for the Nationals to kick off the season, has been in a rut for the past three weeks and it has cost his team in several games.

On Saturday, his struggles continued.

When all was said and done, what was a close game became a 10-5 victory for San Francisco on a beautiful night after a stormy morning at Nationals Park.

Clippard didn’t dissuade any of the concern about a string of recent poor performances, as he and the Nationals squandered a 5-4 lead in the seventh inning to the Giants.

He was relied upon to preserve a narrow lead, but could not hold it – again. San Francisco’s Aaron Rowand tied the game at five with a solo homer to left and then Clippard would issue back-to-back walks to Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff. Moments later, Buster Posey singled to right and plated a run to put the Giants up 6-5.

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman had seen enough and pulled Clippard from the game.  A few minutes later though Juan Uribe stroked a two-run single off of reliever Doug Slaten to right center to put San Francisco up 8-5.

(Photo by Anthony Amobi/Nats News Network)

Clippard’s line in his appearance on Saturday: 1/3 of inning, four runs -- all earned -- on two hits, while walking two and striking out one.

Washington Manager Jim Riggleman, in his post-game press conference with the media, gave his set-up man a vote of confidence, and believes Clippard’s struggle is just a blip in a long year.

"Tyler's just struggling - I don't know what else to say."

He later added, “"He's been a mainstay for us, really has taken on a lot of the workload down there for us. We just got to suffer through a little bit of a bad time here with him."

The Giants padded their lead in the ninth inning as Buster Posey hit a two-run homer off reliever Miguel Batista. However, Posey’s homer had to be reviewed by the umpires via instant replay as Riggleman felt that a fan – in a Giants cap, much less – interfered with the play.

(Photo by Anthony Amobi/Nats News Network)

The umpires did not change their ruling, and Posey was credited with his seventh homer of the season.

Clippard's implosion came after the Nats wrested the lead from the Giants after another shaky outing from starter Craig Stammen.

Stammen went 5 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on six hits. He got out of the first inning unscathed; however, he ran into trouble in the second.

(Photo by Anthony Amobi/Nats News Network)

Posey started off the frame with a single, but Juan Uribe grounded into a double play and it seemed that Stammen would get through the second inning with no damage. However, he gave up a single to Travis Ishikawa and walked Pablo Sandoval. With men on first and second, Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run double to left, and then pitcher Jonathan Sanchez followed up an RBI-single to put San Francisco up, 3-2.

The Giants added another run in the sixth inning thanks to Uribe’s sacrifice fly.

Meanwhile, the Nationals started early on the offensive front. They scored twice in the first inning off a Ryan Zimmerman RBI double and Cristian Guzman scored off a wild pitch from Jonathan Sanchez.

They added another run in the second to tie the game at three as Mike Morse hit a solo homer (his fourth of the season).

(Photo by Anthony Amobi/Nats News Network)

Washington added two more runs in the fourth inning as Ivan Rodriguez roped an RBI-double to left, plating Josh Willingham. Minutes later, Stammen plated in a run with a ground-rule double.

Although the offense perhaps did its job throughout the night, it could have perhaps even been far more productive. The Nationals had a chance in the fifth inning to further a rally, as they had the bases loaded with two outs in the frame; however, Rodriguez grounded out to end the frame.

In the sixth, the Nationals ran themselves out of an inning in the worst way.

After a leadoff double, Washington failed to execute a sacrifice bunt and the lead runner was nabbed at third by rookie catcher Buster Posey.  Later, with two on, a botched hit-and-run with Justin Maxwell at the plate resulted in Ian Desmond getting gunned down at third by Posey.

The Nationals did not score during the frame where they hit a leadoff double and were shut down offensively thereafter for the rest of the game.

Riggleman brought up the events of the sixth inning in his post-game press conference and noted, “We had an offensive night – it looks like.”

“You score five runs, but there was more out there that we didn't get. It came back to bite us."

For the Giants, Santiago Casilla (2-2) got the win in relief; meanwhile, Jonathan Sanchez – who started on the mound for the Giants – only managed to stay in the game for 3 2/2 innings. He gave up five runs, but got the no-decision.

Offensively for Washington, Josh Willingham, Mike Morse and Ryan Zimmerman had two hits. Adam Dunn, who had two homers on Friday night, had a tough night as he struck out three times.

San Francisco’s rookie star Buster Posey was the pain in the side for the Nationals on Saturday as he went 4-for-5 with a homer, three runs driven in and scored twice. The youngster is batting .351 on the season so far.