WASHINGTON (CBS / AP) ― Taken out of the starting lineup, slumping Aubrey Huff drew a bases-loaded walk as a pinch hitter to force home the go-ahead run, and the San Francisco Giants overcame Jonathan Sanchez’s wild start and Brian Wilson’s wild finish to edge the punchless Washington Nationals 2-1 Saturday.
Sanchez walked or hit seven of Washington’s first 10 batters but allowed just two hits and one unearned run in his five innings. Guillermo Mota (2-0) pitched a perfect sixth for the win, and four other relievers followed with hitless work.
Still, Wilson made it interesting in the ninth. He walked two batters and hit Jayson Werth to load the bases with two outs, before striking out Adam LaRoche swinging for his eighth save.
John Lannan (2-3) allowed two runs in 6 2-3 innings.
He gave up Eli Whiteside’s homer in the third and the bases-full walk to Huff in the seventh.
Both teams learned before the game that they would be without their star third basemen for long stretches because of upcoming operations: San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval is expected to miss four to six weeks because of a broken bone in his right wrist; Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman should be sidelined for six weeks with an abdominal tear.
The lineups could have used those players’ skills at the plate.
The Nationals, in particular, really let Sanchez and Wilson get out of trouble despite some serious control problems. Washington left the bases loaded in each of the first two innings, before doing it again in the ninth.
Sanchez walked three of the game’s first four batters — Rick Ankiel’s double-play grounder was the exception — prompting a mound visit by Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti. That didn’t help, because Sanchez then issued a fourth free pass.
But with the bases full, Michael Morse swung at the first pitch and grounded out to third.
Things didn’t get better in the second, which Sanchez began by hitting Ian Desmond with a pitch.
The left-hander then had Desmond picked off first base with a well-disguised move. When Desmond broke for second, fill-in first baseman Buster Posey — normally a catcher, he was making his first start at the bag since August, to give the .202-hitting Huff a rest — threw over, but shortstop Mike Fontenot dropped the ball and was charged with an error.
A wild pitch, walk and another hit batter helped load the bases. Ankiel then hit a floater than ticked off diving Fontenot’s glove for a run-scoring single that made it 1-0 and left three runners on.
But Sanchez managed to wriggle out of the jam. He struck out Jayson Werth looking, then got Adam LaRoche to ground out to Posey.
That began a stretch of eight consecutive outs for Sanchez, including four strikeouts in a row.
After Whiteside’s first homer of 2011 tied the game, the Giants went ahead in the seventh. Miguel Tejada reached on an infield single, Fontenot hit a ground-rule double, and Whiteside was intentionally walked.
That brought up Huff, and Lannan’s day ended with the walk that made it 2-1, a score that wouldn’t change.
NOTES: Giants OF Darren Ford entered as a pinch-runner in the seventh and was thrown out trying to steal second base. Ford singled in the eighth for his first major league hit. … RHP Henry Rodriguez made his Nationals debut in the ninth, reaching 100 mph and striking out two of the three batters he faced. … Posey’s one-out double in the fourth was wiped out on an odd double play. Pat Burrell hit a comebacker and Lannan checked on Posey, who had strayed off second. Lannan ran Posey down and tagged him out, then threw to shortstop Desmond covering second to tag out Burrell as he tried to take an extra base.
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