Missed chances haunt Giants

Missed chances haunt Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Saying the Giants lost, 3-1, to the Nationals because there were no timely hits isn't just a broken record, it's the whole stereo. It's a summation of the 2007 season.

The Giants lost on Thursday because they had 11 hits and only one run. Plain and simple, it wasn't the three runs that starting pitcher Patrick Misch gave up. It was the 12 runners that the Giants left on base. They lost the game, and then they lost perhaps the best pinch-hitter in the Majors, Mark Sweeney, who was traded to the Dodgers.

When Barry Bonds emerged from the dugout to pinch-hit in the eighth inning, the crowd cheered so loudly, it was as if he'd already blasted in the go-ahead runs. A wave of hope rippled through AT&T Park.

The Giants had runners on the corners with just one out and their two best hitters -- Bonds and Bengie Molina -- were due up. There seemed to be no way the Giants were leaving that inning without runs.

When Bonds popped out, the come-from-behind vision started to fade, but Molina still kept it in focus. Molina, batting .390 with two out and runners in scoring position, is who you'd want up there anyway.

The clutch hitting machine had a bead on the ball and fouled off two. But Molina never got to finish his at-bat because Pedro Feliz was caught stealing and the Giants split the series with the Nationals.

The Giants really lost it in the first inning when they put four runners on without bringing in a single run. Instead of a run on the board, the Giants lost a runner when Dave Roberts slid into catcher Jesus Flores on an attempted double steal and came up limping.

Roberts left with a bruised right knee. X-rays showed no serious problems, but Roberts was sent to get an MRI after the game just in case.

"If the MRI doesn't come out clean, than yeah, he could end up on the DL," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're hoping it comes out clean. If it does, we will have to make a move for [pitcher Russ] Ortiz [to come off the DL to start Friday]."

With Roberts out, Rajai Davis shifted to center field, fitting as he became the center of the Giants' offense. Davis collected a career-high three hits and tacked on two stolen bases. One of those hits was a bunt single in the second that resulted in the Giants' only run.

After Davis legged it to first, he stole second and Guillermo Rodriguez was able to single him in.

"It's what I do. I just get on base and try to get into scoring position," a subdued Davis said.

Misch made his second career start in Matt Morris' former spot. He pitched three spotless innings before running into trouble in the fourth inning when he loaded the bases with none out. Misch escaped with just one run when Kevin Frandsen made a spectacular catch at the warning track, but he wasn't so fortunate in the fifth when he gave up a two-run homer to Felipe Lopez.

Misch is expected to make at least two or three more starts before any permanent decisions are made about the rotation.

Sweeney had to leave on a losing note, but he left doing what he does best when he got a pinch-hit in his final at-bat as a Giant.

Becky Regan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.