As the deficit grew from two to four to eight, even the Washington Nationals — who grew so accustomed to comeback, last-at-bat heroics during their 10-game winning streak — had to admit that their good thing was coming to an end.
The Nationals fell 10-3 to the San Francisco Giants on Friday night, ending a streak that tied a franchise record and included seven one-run victories, five come-from-behind wins and five walk-offs.
"When the score was 4-2, I think everybody believed that ‘You know what? We still have a chance to win this game,’" outfielder Denard Span said. "When it got 10-2, I was like, ‘Ah, OK, turn the page.’"
The Nationals fell victim to a Panik attack: Rookie Joe Panik went 4 for 5 — his first four-hit game — and gave the Giants the lead for good with his first major-league homer, a three-run shot just right of the 402-foot mark in center field in the fourth inning.
"Thankfully, it wasn’t AT&T Park," Panik said. "But I’ll take it. It’s definitely nice to get into a little trot instead of having to bust it into a triple or something."
Tim Hudson (9-9) allowed one earned run over 5 1/3 innings for his first since win July 19. Javier Lopez, Jean Machi, Sergio Romo and Juan Gutierrez finished the job for the Giants, who have won six of eight.
Doug Fister (12-4) threw six innings and uncharacteristically gave up a pair of homers — Nos. 12 and 13 allowed this season.
"I just wasn’t sharp," Fister said. "I left too many balls over the plate."
The Nationals’ streak had become suspense baseball theater at its best, always with a happy ending for the team in red and white. The staff ERA during the 10 games was 1.82, and there were regular Gatorade baths for the player who inevitably would get the game-ending hit.
"It was a good run, just a lot of excitement the last 10 days," Span said. "We came back, a lot of come-from-behind wins, and I think we jelled as a team, and it was a lot of fun."
Manager Matt Williams found himself having to answer to a promise he made to a television network earlier this season about doing his famous Babe Ruth impersonation if his team won 10 in a row. He says he’ll do it eventually, but that the middle of a pennant race is not "the proper time."
After the loss, Williams said it had been a "hectic week" and declared Friday’s game "kind of a clunker all around."
"It’s pretty rare to see 10 in a row," he said. "But we’ve got to get back to work tomorrow and see if we can start another one."
Fister appeared to have a cut of several inches on the side of his neck. Asked about it, he said: "I had some skin cancer removed a couple of days ago, and it had no effect tonight." He said he was now OK.
After further review, Anthony Rendon was given an infield single on the walk-off play from the Nationals’ 1-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday. The play was originally ruled a two-base error on third baseman Jordan Pacheco, whose low throw got past the first baseman and allowed Span to score from second. The play is now scored as a hit and an error.
Giants LF Michael Morse received a partial standing ovation and was serenaded by some fans with an impromptu chorus of "Take on Me" when he batted in the second inning. It was his first return to Washington since 2012, when his walk-up song became a rallying cry as he helped the Nationals win the NL East.
Giants: CF Angel Pagan left the game with an upper calf injury and is day to day. … 1B Brandon Belt (concussion) was moved from the seven-day disabled list to the 15-day DL. He hasn’t played since Aug. 6.
Nationals: OF Nate McLouth had surgery on the torn labrum in his right shoulder. "It went fine and it’s all put back together," Williams said. The Nationals expect McLouth to recover in time for spring training.
San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum (10-8, 4.48 ERA) faces Jordan Zimmermann (8-5, 2.97) on Saturday in the second game of the three-game series.