WASHINGTON – San Francisco Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez walked or hit seven of the first 10 Washington Nationals he faced. Giants closer Brian Wilson walked or hit three out of four Nationals hitters in one stretch in the ninth inning.
Ah, and don't forget that Sanchez also walked someone else and mixed in a wild pitch, reliever Jeremy Affeldt added yet another walk, and shortstop Mike Fontenot dropped a throw for an error.
Somehow, despite a total of nine walks and three hit batters, the Giants allowed only one run. And, somehow, they managed to beat the punchless Nationals 2-1 Saturday, thanks — appropriately, it seems — to a go-ahead run that scored when a slumping Aubrey Huff drew a bases-loaded walk as a pinch hitter.
According to STATS LLC, the Giants are the first team since 1955 to put 12 or more of an opponent's runners on base via a walk or hit-by-pitch but give up fewer than two runs in a nine-inning game. Oddly enough, the losing team in that long-ago game also was a team known as the Washington Nationals.
"A strange game," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Jonathan — he didn't know where the ball was going. He was all over the board."
Here's the thing, though: The Nationals left the bases loaded three times. They only accumulated two hits all game — both by Rick Ankiel off Sanchez, including a run-scoring single in the second.
Sanchez walked six but allowed just 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 in nine chances.
"When you're not scoring a lot of runs and leaving guys out there, it starts to weigh on you as a team," LaRoche said. "It makes every one of those opportunities seem more important than it is."
John Lannan (2-3) allowed two runs in 6 2-3 innings: Eli Whiteside's homer in the third and the bases-full walk to Huff in the seventh.
"I blew it with Huff," Lannan said.
That was the last batter Lannan faced. Nationals manager Jim Riggleman second-guessed himself after the game for leaving his lefty in to face Huff after having him intentionally walk Whiteside to load the bases.
Riggleman said he wanted to give Lannan a chance to possibly earn a win. But the skipper later realized he should have brought in reliever Tyler Clippard to pitch to Whiteside.
"That's one that's on me," Riggleman said.
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.
Sanchez walked three of the game's first four batters — 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 for Sanchez, who began that inning 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 Fontenot let the ball slip out of his glove.
A wild pitch, walk and another hit batter helped load the bases. Ankiel then hit a floater that ticked off the diving Fontenot's glove for a run-scoring single that made it 1-0 and left three runners on.
"As a group, we were in a fog there — a couple of mistakes we made," said Bochy, whose team had lost six of its preceding eight games. "We have to snap out of this."
Sanchez did manage to wriggle out of that jam. He struck out Werth looking, then got LaRoche to ground out to Posey.
That began a stretch of eight consecutive outs for Sanchez, including four strikeouts in a row.
"I had to stay out there and go deep in the game," the pitcher said. "I didn't have it in my first two innings, and then I said: 'That's done.'"
NOTES: The Cleveland Indians walked 11 batters and hit one in a 3-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on June 14, 1955, STATS LLC said. ... 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 three batters.