WASHINGTON (AP) — Pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez stepped to the plate with one thought in mind against Washington Nationals closer Rafael Soriano: Look for a fastball.
After being on the right side of a borderline call with the game on the line in the top of the ninth, Sanchez was ready for the next one. With a full count, he drove a three-run homer just inside the right field foul pole in the second deck, helping the San Francisco Giants beat the Nationals 4-3 on Thursday.
"In my mind I just think 'Stay fair.'" Sanchez said.
Sergio Romo worked a scoreless bottom half for his 29th save. Javier Lopez (2-2) pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings of relief to earn the win.
The loss snapped Washington's five-game winning streak and spoiled Dan Haren's six-inning, one-run effort.
"That one hurt," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.
The Sanchez homer followed a 2-2 fastball that Soriano (2-3) thought was a strike, but home plate umpire Jim Joyce ruled high. Johnson acknowledged that Joyce had called the high pitch consistently a ball all game. His closer disagreed.
"That pitch, to me, I think it (was) a strike," Soriano said of the 2-2 pitch. "I think that's when the game changed."
Johnson, however, pointed to Soriano's walk of left fielder Roger Kieschnick with two outs and Buster Posey at first base after a leadoff single.
"A .250 hitter, you've got to get him out," Johnson said. "You can't come close. You've got to make him put it in play."
That set the stage for Sanchez, a switch-hitter who was batting left-handed. He turned on the next fastball and tucked it inside the foul pole.
"I know my job, like everybody," Sanchez said. "I have to be ready for that situation. I have to come into the cage during the game and get ready."
Ian Desmond doubled home two runs in the third inning and Jayson Werth added two hits for the Nationals.
Brandon Belt homered for the Giants and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Ryan Vogelsong allowed three runs in the third inning, all with two outs.
San Francisco, which had a late rally fall short in a 6-5 loss on Wednesday, snapped a three-game losing streak
"The boys needed this," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "To come up short (Wednesday) after fighting so hard there in the ninth? Save a little sanity here."