The Nationals rode into town with hot pistols, and they have won big and have won small in two games. They have been impressive. The two losses have the Giants looking for meaning, and Madison Bumgarner has supplied it. Henry Schulman quoted him as saying, “We can’t be perfect every time out. It’s just about how quickly you can come back from it. No matter how good you are, you’re going to go through times like this.”

When he said this, he had just lost his fourth game of the season, having won a career-best six in a row, and the Giants had just been handed their first losing streak in three and a half weeks. In the face of a loss, he was clear, intelligent, and perceptive. Allowing two earned runs while striking out five and walking one, he pitched well enough to win on most days against most teams, but he understands the difference between “most” and “always.” The Nationals split that difference, and they make this a most interesting series.

Michael Morse in the eighth, facing Tyler Clippard, had his hand on a golden opportunity. He hit a long foul ball down the line toward left before Clippard delivered a 3-2 fastball that Morse missed. Earlier in the sixth Pablo Sandoval attempted to score from second on Brandon Crawford’s single. But Jayson Werth threw him out. In a tight game, one of these turning points could have turned out differently and given the Giants a W. But they didn’t, and Bumgarner’s philosophy comes in handy when games turn on matters of inches, and when the fans’ interest has to be nourished by superior baseball and not by wins. How quickly the Giants come back against a fine team will have to be enough as we watch expectantly tomorrow.

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