for this game

Nats hope to stave off elimination versus Giants

Oct 6, 2014 - 2:30 PM ( - Down two games to none the cards are certainly stacked against the Washington Nationals. If they need some motivation, though, all they have to do is look across at the opposing dugout.

Washington tries to stave off elimination on Monday, as the National League Division Series shifts to San Francisco for Game 3 at AT&T Park.

History is not on the Nationals' side. Since the current divisional format began in 1995 there have been 46 teams who have gone ahead 2-0 in a Division Series and only five have lost the series.

However, the last team to do it was the 2012 Giants, who, of course, went on to win the World Series.

"Yeah, it can be done," Washington manager Matt Williams said Sunday. "It can certainly be done. You have to start with the first one."

It may be a tall order, though, against a Giants team that has won an NL- record 10 straight postseason games and will be throwing their ace, Madison Bumgarner, in front of what should be a raucous crowd.

Bumgarner has already left his mark on this postseason, throwing a four-hit shutout to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the wild card game.

If there was no Clayton Kershaw we may very well be talking about an NL Cy Young Award for Bumgarner, who set career-high marks in wins (18) and strikeouts (219) this season and pitched to a 2.98 ERA.

"We are confident with Bum on the mound on Monday," said Giants first baseman Brandon Belt. "Definitely not taking it for granted. We have seen teams come back down from 0-2 and win the series. We are going to go in there and try to play our best baseball. If we don't, they will take advantage of it."

While Bumgarner was one of the best road pitchers in the league this season, he was quite ordinary at home, going 7-6 with a 5.03 ERA in 15 starts. In seven starts versus the Nationals, he's pitched to a 2.60 ERA.

This will be Bumgarner's ninth career postseason appearance. He is 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA.

"As boring as it sounds, you've got to treat it like any other game," he said. "For me, it's fun and exciting to go out there and get amped up and pumped up for the game. But for me, and a lot of people, when you do that, you don't play as good of baseball as you should. So it's important to push all the nerves and anxiety and excitement aside and just play good, fundamentally sound baseball."

Washington, meanwhile, will be throwing a postseason stalwart of its own in Doug Fister, who actually matched up against Bumgarner in the 2012 World Series as a member of the Detroit Tigers.

Fister is no stranger to October baseball, as Monday's start will be his 17th postseason appearance. A surprise injury replacement during his postseason debut in 2011, Fister has gone 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 15 October games, all with the Tigers.

"It's definitely a benefit with having some experience," Fister said. "But it just comes down to executing, and that is a big thing. These guys have played well for a long time and they are on quite a roll. But at the same time, we have been backed into a corner before. We've been through a lot of ups and downs, and I think that's something that's definitely going to help us here where we're down 0-2."

Fister missed the first month of the season with a lat strain, but eventually enjoyed the best statistical season of his career, going 16-5 with a 2.20 ERA over his final 24 starts. The righty also walked a total of just 24 batters in those games.

"We don't have a choice now," Williams said. "It is a must-win (game) for us. Then we must win Game 4 and hopefully get it back to (Washington). That is all we can do at this point."

San Francisco moved to the brink of its third NLCS appearance in five years with a thrilling 18-inning win on Saturday. Pablo Sandoval's RBI double tied the game with two outs in the ninth inning, and Belt's solo homer in the 18th gave the never-say-die Giants a 2-1 victory and spoiled what was an outstanding outing from the Nats' Jordan Zimmermann.

Belt's leadoff blast off Tanner Roark (0-1) produced the deciding run in the longest game by time in postseason history. The real hero of the game may have been Giants reliever Yusmeiro Petit, who held the Nationals to a single hit over six scoreless innings in a splendid performance out of the bullpen

"I was trying to get as much as I could out of him," Bochy said.

Just six days removed from throwing the first no-no in Nationals history, Zimmermann yielded just three hits and retired 20 straight hitters before being lifted after walking Joe Panik with two outs in the fateful ninth.

Drew Storen promptly allowed a single to Buster Posey, then Sandoval followed with a double to score Panik with the tying run. Posey actually raced home on the play only to be thrown at home on a play that was confirmed via replay review.

The Nats had their way with the Giants in the regular season, taking five out of seven games.