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Sandoval lifts Giants over Nats

RYAN Zimmerman's hitting streak is stretching into its second month, but Washington's third baseman can't enjoy it much. The Nationals have the majors' worst record and a bullpen that makes far too many hitters look as good as Zimmerman himself.

Pablo Sandoval slugged a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth, dramatically finishing the San Francisco Giants' 9-7 victory over Washington on Tuesday night with the first game-ending shot of his life.

Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 30 games with two singles for the hard-luck Nationals, who have lost nine straight to the Giants - none tougher than this defeat after Washington scored six runs in the late innings.

San Francisco blew a 5-1 lead when Nick Johnson hit a three-run homer in the seventh and drove in two more runs with a weak single in the eighth. But after Bengie Molina hit an eighth-inning homer off Kip Wells, the Giants rallied in the ninth against Joe Beimel (0-2).

"Our starting pitchers are the youngest part of our team, and they've done well," Zimmerman said. "Unfortunately, the guys that are pitching the second half of the game haven't been able to get it done this year, and that's been the story of our season so far."

Elsewhere in the National League, it was: Phillies 5, Dodgers 3; Pirates 7, Cardinals 1; Mets 4, Braves 3 (in 10 innings); Cubs 6, Padres 2; Brewers 6, Marlins 3; Rockies 12, Astros 1; and Reds 3, Diamondbacks 1

In the American League, it was: White Sox 7, Indians 4; Orioles 7, Rays 5; Blue Jays 5, Yankees 1; Rangers 7, Mariners 1; Twins 6, Tigers 2; Red Sox 4, Angels 3; and Athletics 12, Royals 3.

In San Francisco, Emmanuel Burriss singled and Edgar Renteria drew a walk before Sandoval cracked a 2-2 pitch into left for his third homer of the season, setting off a frenzied celebration at home plate for the Giants' 15th win in 21 games, pushing them four games above .500 for the first time in nearly three years.

"I couldn't believe that happened for me," said Sandoval, the 22-year-old Venezuelan free swinger who uncharacteristically took four pitches before his homer. "In this moment, I'm just going to get my pitch and drive the ball. I don't want to tie the game. I just want to end it."

Zimmerman matched the fourth-longest hitting streak in the majors since 2000. He has the first 30-game streak since Moises Alou did it in late 2007, and the 26th streak of at least 30 games since Joe DiMaggio's 56-game record in 1941.

Washington's third baseman also is one game shy of the franchise-record 31-game streak by Vladimir Guerrero in 1999 - when the team was in Montreal.


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