"Our guys got after it and grinded out at bats.  We just came up short each time."  Manager Jim Riggleman, describing the runners left on base today.

The Nats wonder what they have to do to get a hit with runners in scoring position.
 (Photo by Ian Koski/Nats Daily News)

THE RESULT:  On the day before the four-day break for the 2010 All-Star Game, the Washington Nationals hitters struggled once again with runners in scoring position -- and stranded 13 runners total -- losing 6-2 to the San Francisco Giants, in front of 22,403 sun-drenched fans at Nationals Park.

The loss drops the Nats to 39-50 at the All-Star break and gives them a 5-5 record on the 10-game homestand that they started 5-3 on.

The Nats outhit the Giants 10-6, but failed to take advantage of the many opportunities they had.  They went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position, and twice left the bases loaded.

"It was kind of an uphill battle," manager Jim Riggleman said after the game.

Nyjer Morgan was erased on a double play.
 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)

Falling behind early, Washington had a chance to make a game of it in the seventh inning. 

Down 5-0 entering the frame, they scored twice, courtesy of a Cristian Guzman RBI single and Adam Dunn grounder off the leg of pitcher Jeremy Affeldt that went as an RBI base hit.  But with the bases loaded, Josh Willingham struck out on three hard sliders in a row from releiver Sergio Romo and Ivan Rodriguez flied out to end the inning.

Adam Dunn had one of the two RBI hits for the Nats.
 (Photo by Ian Koski/Nats Daily News)

It was fairly typical of the Washington offensive execution all day.  The Nats found ways to reach base, with 10 hits, six walks, and even two hit batters.  But only two out of all those base runners found their way to home plate.

Livan Hernandez was not as sharp today as he would have liked.  Though he didn't give up a ton of base runners -- seven total on five hits and two walks -- most of those that did get on came around to score.

"Livo lives on the edges out there...It just wasn't going his way," Riggleman said of his starter's effort.

Hernandez (L, 6-5, 3.37) was particularly rough in the first inning.  He gave up a hit and two walks to load the bases, and Travis Ishikawa punished him with a line drive to right field -- scoring two -- with just one out in the first inning. 

Livo managed to get out of the inning just with two scored and it could have been worse, but San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy sacrificed with the second batter of the game.

It was the tenth game out of 11 the Nats have allowed at least one run in the first inning.

Livan Hernandez struggled today, giving up five earned runs in five innings.
(Photo by Ian Koski/Nats Daily News)

It did get worse for Livo in the third.  Back-to-back singles to start the inning by Freddie Sanchez and Aubrey Huff preceded a triple to the center field wall by rookie catcher Buster Posey that it appeared that center fielder Nyjer Morgan may have overran as it hit the wall behind where he was running.

It did not look like he could have made the catch regardless, but limiting Posey to a double would have prevented him scoring on a sacrifice fly by the next batter, Ishikawa.  But it was not to be.

Riggleman described the play, "When he hit it I thought it was going to be gone.  When it hit off the wall I didn't give any thought to [a misplay], to tell you the truth.  I thought it was just high enough off the wall that it bounced off and he had to chase it down."

Drew Storen had a tough time of it in relief as the Giants got an insurance run off of him on two hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning.

Giants rookie starter Madison Bumgarner evened his record at 2-3 with the win.  He went six innings and gave up one earned run on seven hits.  He struck out six and did not walk a batter, though he hit two.

THE GOOD:  Adam Dunn.  He's been on fire lately and went 3-for-5 today with an RBI.  Doug Slaten threw two perfect innings to keep the Nats in the game during the middle innings.

THE BAD:  The Nats top three hitters, Morgan, Guzman and Ryan Zimmerman combined to go 3-for-12. 

THE UGLY:  If you want to point fingers at all the men left on base today, point at Ivan Rodriguez and Michael Morse, who each left five runners on base.

THE STATS:  The Nats struck out eight times and walked four times.

NEXT GAME:  The Nats are off for the next four days with the All-Star festivities and get back at it Friday in Florida.  Stephen Strasburg will start the Nats' first game back out of the break.

Ryan Zimmerman snuck a single past Giants sortstop Jose Uribe.
(Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)