SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The San Francisco Giants couldn't come back this time.
A day after posting one of their most stirring victories of the season, the Giants offense went flat against Washington's Jordan Zimmermann and couldn't do anything against a pair of relievers, either.
Even the defending World Series champs can hit a bump in the road now and again.
``Of course we have the confidence to come back, but we weren't able to do it tonight,' second baseman Freddy Sanchez said. ``We're not going to be able to do it every night. They were able to close the door on us.'
Zimmermann pitched seven impressive innings and drove in the tiebreaking run with a safety squeeze in the fourth, Ian Desmond had an RBI single and Wilson Ramos added two hits as the Nationals rebounded from Monday's frustrating 13-inning loss to win despite stranding 11 runners.
Washington benefited from an erratic outing by San Francisco starter and loser Jonathan Sanchez.
Sanchez had six strikeouts but walked five and pitched with runners on base in all five innings he worked.
``I don't know how the game was that close,' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ``We were in trouble for the first five innings. It was a tough go for Sanchez. He battled and did a pretty good job having to pitch with so much traffic.'
Sanchez (4-4) kept it close despite his shaky control and pitched out of a pair of bases-loaded jams before getting lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth with his team trailing by a run.
``I had to work hard out there,' Sanchez said. ``I had bases loaded twice and I got out of it twice. I just didn't go deep in the game, that was it.'
Zimmermann scattered five hits to beat the Giants for the second time this season. The right-hander also won consecutive starts for the first time this year.
Nate Schierholtz doubled in San Francisco's only run in the second.
The game was in stark contrast to Monday night's 4 1/2-hour marathon in several ways.
Washington hit into three double plays and left the bases loaded twice but held on for the win by getting a solid effort from Zimmermann (4-6) and two scoreless innings from the bullpen.
Zimmermann, the 25-year-old righty who underwent Tommy John surgery on Aug. 19, 2009, went seven innings to match his career high and had three strikeouts and a walk. He also beat the Giants on May 1 when he pitched six innings and allowed two runs.
``He's got good stuff,' said Sanchez, who went 0-for-4. ``There's not much else you can say. He throws a lot of strikes.'
The Nationals played without manager Jim Riggleman, who served a one-game suspension and was fined by Major League Baseball as a result of Washington pitcher Jason Marquis hitting Arizona's Justin Upton with a pitch during Sunday's game against the Diamondbacks. Marquis received a five-game suspension but appealed and can keep playing until the process is completed.
Bench coach John McLaren managed the Nationals in Riggleman's absence.
Aubrey Huff, who made an error in the first inning after colliding with second baseman Freddy Sanchez while chasing Desmond's short popup, tripled leading off the second and scored on Schierholtz's double to left-center to give San Francisco an early lead.
Zimmermann was dominant after that and didn't allow another Giants runner past first base. It marked the sixth time in his last seven starts that Zimmermann has held an opponent to fewer than two runs.
``I had a good curve and a good fastball and I felt like I could throw (them) whenever I wanted to,' said Zimmermann, who scattered five hits to beat the Giants for the second time this season. ``There were a couple hard-hit balls, a couple bloopers that could have fell, but we got good breaks on them.'
The Nationals' bullpen, which gave up all five runs in Monday's 5-4 loss to the Giants, made it hold up.
Tyler Clippard walked pinch-hitter Cody Ross leading off the eighth, then retired the next three batters. Drew Storen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 12th save in 13 chances.
Desmond singled home Laynce Nix in the third to tie the game but San Francisco starter Jonathan Sanchez struck out Ramos with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Washington took a 2-1 lead when Rick Ankiel doubled and scored on Zimmermann's bunt in the fourth.
The Giants' bullpen, which combined for eight scoreless innings Monday, blanked the Nationals over the final four innings.
NOTES: Giants LHP Barry Zito allowed two hits in 6 2-3 innings of a rehab assignment for Class-A San Jose on Monday. Zito, who had six strikeouts and didn't walk a batter, will start against Modesto on Saturday and make one more start in the minors before the team decides whether to activate him from the disabled list. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval homered in his rehab game with Triple-A Fresno. Sandoval will work out with the big league club in San Francisco on Wednesday before possibly rejoining Fresno. ... ... The Giants have sold out all 26 home games so far this season.
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