Nationals continue western jaunt against Giants

A couple of struggling teams meet up at AT&T Park on Monday, as the San Francisco Giants host the Washington Nationals for the opener of a three-game set.

Washington has lost two in a row and four of its last six games overall. On Sunday, the Nationals were on the wrong end of a 13-4 final at San Diego. Five different Padres drove in two runs, as Nats starter Dan Haren was chased after giving up seven runs in five innings.

Meanwhile, San Francisco has dropped three in a row and went 1-5 on its recent road swing. The starters had an unsightly 9.82 ERA on the trip as they allowed at least five runs or more in every game.

On Sunday, the Giants were blanked by the Rockies, 5-0. It marked the first time in two years the Giants lost a series to Colorado. The offense managed only five hits, while Barry Zito was the latest Giants starter to get roughed up as he allowed five runs on 11 hits.

Manager Bruce Bochy downplayed the recent struggles of his rotation.

"It's a temporary thing. You don't have the success we've had and not be good, these pitchers," Bochy said. "It's a great starting rotation. They've done some remarkable things for us, but at the same time it's a new year and we've got to make some adjustments."

Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong has seen his season spiral downward, so much so that he and Bochy had a private chat on Thursday. Vogelsong is 1-4 with an 8.06 ERA in eight starts this season. He lasted only two innings at Toronto on Wednesday after giving up eight runs (three earned) on six hits.

"The one pitcher you would have a little concern with is Vogelsong, because he's been consistently off track and trying to get there," Bochy said. "It's been Ryan that's had the toughest go-around from Day 1."

For Washington, left-hander Zach Duke is making his first start since 2011. Duke is getting the start in place of an injured Ross Detwiler despite struggling in his long relief role.

"I'm not commanding the ball, working behind in the count, and then throwing the ball down the middle," Duke said. "That's what it all boils down to."

Washington claimed five of the six meetings against San Francisco last season, although the lone loss did come at AT&T Park.