SAN FRANCISCO — This time, Bryce Harper made the catch. And yeah, it was a relief.
Harper made a game-saving grab in right field and had a couple of big hits at the plate to help the Washington Nationals beat the San Francisco Giants 2-1 in 10 innings on Wednesday.
San Francisco had runners on first and second with one out in the eighth when Harper had to dive to grab Hunter Pence’s sinking liner in the gap, keeping it tied at 1. He banged up his left knee on the play, but managed to stay in the game.
“The trainer came up to me after the eighth and said Bryce hurt his knee again,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said. “I didn’t want to hear that. I could not imagine taking him out there. He said he was fine. We’ll fix it tomorrow.”
Harper is still recovering from his dangerous collision with the outfield wall in Los Angeles a week ago. He felt he should have made the catch on Gregor Blanco’s tying triple in the ninth inning of San Francisco’s 4-2 win on Tuesday night, acknowledging that the play against the Dodgers was on his mind.
So the play against Pence was a big lift for the 20-year-old phenom.
“I’m just glad I caught it,” he said. “It’s still in my head and I have to try and get past it. It’s just going to take time.”
Harper also hit his 12th homer in the sixth and sparked the winning rally with a one-out double. Ryan Zimmerman was walked intentionally before Ian Desmond had an RBI single against Jeremy Affeldt (1-1), helping the Nationals avoid a three-game series sweep.
Tyler Clippard (3-1) pitched a perfect 10th for the win and Rafael Soriano got three outs for his 14th save. He failed to convert each of his last two chances, including Tuesday night’s loss.
Buster Posey hit a tying RBI single for San Francisco in the eighth. Marco Scutaro went 0 for 3 with two walks, ending his 19-game hitting streak. He flew out to deep left to end the game.
“We played well again today,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Really it was their defense in the eighth that won the game. They made nice plays on Pence and Belt. We ran into a well-pitched game.”
Both teams failed to muster much offense in a nice pitchers’ duel between Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals and Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner.
“It’s never easy to give it up like that but I think we’ll be OK,” Bumgarner said. “They have a good team over there and they have as good a shot as anybody.”
Gonzalez was charged with one run and four hits over 7 1-3 innings, throwing a season-high 116 pitches. Harper’s leadoff drive was the only blemish for Bumgarner, who gave up four hits in seven innings.
“It’s going to be a good plane ride home,” Gonzalez said. “The defense and the bullpen kept us in it.”
Bumgarner’s first four outs were by strikeouts and five of the first eight. He did not strike out a batter after the third inning. He gave up a career-high nine runs — seven earned — in a season-low 4 2-3 innings last Friday at Colorado.
Gonzalez has been pitching better of late, giving up five runs over his last 29 innings after allowing 19 runs over his first 32 innings.
Angel Pagan made it to third with one out in the first, but Gonzalez struck out Pence and Brett Pill to end the inning.
“Gio pitched an unbelievable game,” Desmond said. “He showed a lot of guts.”
Gonzalez, who had his third consecutive no-decision, retired 15 of 16 hitters during one stretch.
NOTES: Harper said his left knee was a little swollen. “Hopefully the swelling will go down,” he said. “It was important to get this win and be able to go home and get comfortable.” ... Attendance at AT&T Park reached 1,040,301 for the season in home game No. 25. ... The Nationals have hit at least one home run in 71 consecutive series. ... RHP Jordan Zimmermann (7-2, 1.62 ERA) takes the mound for the Nationals on Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies. ... RHP Tim Lincecum (3-3, 4.70 ERA) starts Friday’s game for the Giants against the Colorado Rockies. ... Giants INF Pablo Sandoval was not in the starting lineup because of an illness. ... Giants 1B Brandon Belt felt tightness in his back and did not start. ... The Nationals ended their longest road trip of the season (10 games). ... Nationals OF Tyler Moore went 0 for 3 and is hitless in his last 21 at-bats.