SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants haven't had many of "those" nights thus far in 2014.
Their games-to-bury-and-never-revisit counter increased by one Monday night as the Nationals snapped the Giants' five-game winning streak with a 9-2 shellacking to take the first of a four-game set at AT&T Park. The seven-run defeat was San Francisco's largest of the season.
Starter Ryan Vogelsong struggled to keep his pitches down, so the Nationals went up early, scoring four runs in the first three innings.
"He was up a bit more than we're used to," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's been throwing the ball so well, but the cutter stayed up on him. ... This team we're playing has been swinging the bat well and they took advantage of him."
Vogelsong (4-3, 3.84) allowed runs in each of the game's first three innings before temporarily harnessing his command to throw three scoreless innings. But too much damage had been done well before a five-run outburst sealed the deal for the Nationals in the seventh.
Vogelsong finished his nondescript outing with six-plus innings, in which he allowed six runs on nine hits and two walks. Stephen Strasburg (6-4, 2.99) won his third consecutive start, allowing one run on four hits while fanning seven on 88 pitches in six innings. Strasburg is now 3-0 in four career starts against the Giants, who have mustered just five runs in 25 innings against him.
"Just had a bad night, that's all," Vogelsong said. "Just wasn't my night.
"They got some guys in there that can swing the bat and that are hot right now. That changes things. I felt like I had a pretty good game plan going into it, just didn't make enough good pitches, really."
After completing a three-game sweep of the Mets on Sunday, Bochy cautioned against being too happy about the Giants' position atop the Majors, citing both the calendar (it's early June, you guys) and that the Giants haven't played every National League club yet.
It was just one game in early June, but the Nationals showed why there's no cause for celebration yet on the shores on McCovey Cove. Winners of eight of their last 10 with a highly talented roster, the Nationals figure to be worthy challengers in the fall if the Giants are to remain on their path to the postseason.
"They have some good hitters in that lineup and they've been on a roll," Bochy said. "They played well in San Diego, swung the bats well in a tough park to hit in, so they came in here with a lot of confidence. [Vogelsong] was a little bit off and when you find a team that's hot with the bats, they're probably going to take advantage of some pitches that are elevated there, and they did."
The win improved the Nationals to 9-1 this season when scoring three or more runs in a game started by Strasburg, so Monday's ineffectiveness came at a particularly inopportune time for Vogelsong.
"You're hoping to keep the game close when you're going against a guy like Strasburg. He was on top of his game," Bochy said. "When you're facing a guy like this, you need your guy to be on top of his game."
Strasburg pitched with a lead throughout. Jayson Werth's double scored Denard Span to give Washington a 1-0 lead in the first. A bases-loaded double by Ian Desmond in the third scored a pair, giving the Nationals a 4-1 lead. The double improved Desmond to 5-for-5 this season with the bases loaded. He finished with a career-high five RBIs after hitting a two-run double off George Kontos to cap off the five-run seventh and extend the Washington lead to 9-1.
San Francisco's runs came on singles by Brandon Crawford and Joaquin Arias in the second and eighth innings, respectively. The lone other bright spot for the Giants came in the bottom of the ninth, when Bochy granted Angel Pagan's wish to get an at-bat. Pagan, who grounded out, was held out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive day due to a sore right shin. Bochy guessed Pagan would return to the starting lineup Tuesday.
That's a step in the right direction to avoid a second consecutive "blah" night.
"Just a bad night," Vogelsong again said. "I threw some really good pitches and I threw some really bad ones. It's just one of them nights. I'm a perfectionist and I want to be perfect every time, but in this game, sometimes you just have nights like this where it isn't your night and that's what tonight was."
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.