July 3 kicked off a three-game series between two first place teams, the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals.
The environment at Nationals' Park was upbeat during the opening game of the Stars and Stripes Series scheduled over the July Fourth holiday as two-first place teams came head-to-head.
At series start, the Giants lead the NL West, while the Nats top NL East.
2012 All-Star Ian Desmond hits a single at this at-bat and later hit the game's only homerun during Game 1
In Game 1, the Giants started off with some excitement in the first inning when Gregor Blanco singled with a hit, and then stole second base.
However, no runs came for San Francisco in the first inning.
Despite some base hits, the Giants couldn't pull up to the same power on the offensive as the Nationals showed during the July 3 game. The Nats would get singles, several doubles and a homerun by 2012 all Star Ian Desmond in the third inning. ESPN reported the shortstop's homerun was 421 feet.
With eight runs nabbed by the Nats during the first six innings, the game was already looking good for Washington with a strong lead.
San Francisco's George Kontos relived the struggling Tim Lincecum to pitch the fifth inning.
After about an hour to hour-and-a-half delay, the game picked at the top of the seventh inning, and the full game was finished. Nats take Game 1, score 9-3. Nationals' pitcher Jordan Zimmermann gets the win, Tim Lincecum, reported by CBS as the worst start of his career, got the loss.
Jordan Zimmermann took to the mound on July 3; Nats won 9-3
On July 4, Game 2 commenced, with Edwin Jackson as starting pitcher for the Nationals. The Giants took a quick lead with three runs in the first inning, including a homerun by third baseman Pablo Sandoval that brought in two runs.
Brandon Crawford and Danny Espinosa chat before the July 3 game
The Nationals' lead-off man, second baseman Danny Espinosa, who had stolen both second and third base during inning 3 the night before, was hit by a pitch. He took first base, quickly stole second base, his 14th steal of the year. However, the second-baseman did not score this inning, but got his chance the next.
Espinosa singled in the third inning, killing any chance of a no-hitter for the Giants. When Nats third baseman Ryan Zimmerman came to bat and doubled, Espinosa would score the first run of the day for the Nationals. Desmond would drive in two RBIs with his single, tying up the game, 3-3. Nationals would steal the Giants' solid lead shortly after this point.
Rookie catcher Jhonatan Solano hit a solo homerun in the fourth inning. Outfielder Bryce Harper singles in the fifth, followed by a Zimmerman homer, then the next batter, Michael Morse, also whacks one into the home team's bullpen during inning 5, putting the score at 6-3.
In the sixth inning, the Giants' offense battled back, with another hit by Sandoval that drove in an RBI for second baseman Emmanuel Burriss to score, bringing it to a 6-4 game.
Nationals offense stayed strong in the eighth with some swap-outs by Manager Davey Johnson. Outfielders Roger Bernadina and Rick Ankiel start a solid inning with a single and stolen base by Bernadina, immediately followed by an Ankiel homerun. End of the inning Nats lead 9-4. The Giants didn't score any runs at the top of the ninth.
For Game 2, Edwin Jackson gets the win, Madison Bumgarner the loss.
After these two losses for the Giants, and the Los Angeles Dodgers two game winning streak, San Francisco has slipped into second place in the NL West.
Tonight's Game 3 kicks off at 7 p.m. Will the Nats sweep, or will the Giants be able to gain a win, pushing them back towards first place? Current standings have the Giants a half-game behind the Dodgers.
Nationals' shortstop Ian Desmond is headed to the All-Star game next week. So far, Desmond has shown a strong bat during the series against the Giants this week.