SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Madison Bumgarner pitched another strong outing for San Francisco, but a throwing error gifted Washington two runs and handed the Nationals a lifeline in Game Three of their National League Divisional Series on Monday.
A wild throw that flew wide of third baseman Pablo Sandoval broke a scoreless tie at the top of the seventh inning and paved the way for a 4-1 win for the Nationals.
After losing the first two games by one run at home, the second in 18 marathon innings, the Nats found the road a happier place, avoiding elimination and cutting the Giants’ lead to 2-1 in the best-of-five series.
The result ended a near-record major league run of 10 consecutive postseason victories for the Giants.
Pitchers again dominated Game Three as Doug Fister and Bumgarner kept the opposition batters in check. Both threw seven innings, giving up four and six hits respectively.
But Bumgarner, who pitched the Giants into the divisional series via a wild-card game against Pittsburgh, will rue his mistake with nobody out in the seventh.
With Washington runners on first and second, a sacrifice bunt by catcher Wilson Ramos, who had not bunted in more than three years, was pounced upon by Bumgarner.
But instead of taking the easy out at first base, Bumgarner ambitiously tried to nail Washington’s Ian Desmond at third.
Bumgarner was too late but compounded the mental error with a physical one, his throw whistling left and well wide of a stretching Sandoval and allowing Desmond and Bryce Harper to score and take a game-winning 2-0 lead, breaking a 21-inning Washington scoreless drought.
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said he had been hoping Bumgarner would take the safe out at first base.
“He tried to do a little too much,” Bochy told reporters. “He tried to rush it and he threw it away… He threw it away well, too.
“He pitched great (but) it was not a good decision. I’m sure he wishes he could have it back.”
Washington manager Matt Williams was relieved more than delighted with the result.
“Everybody was well aware of where we were at,” he said. “And it doesn’t change for tomorrow, same situation.
“Doug (Fister) pitched great. He was in command all day. The (batting) offense wasn’t there today but we were able to get a couple of guys on (base) and lay down a bunt and that was the difference.”
Game Four is in San Francisco on Tuesday.
Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue / Ian Ransom