WASHINGTON -- A dislocated left pinkie finger has led to bigger and better things for young Joe Panik.
The rookie second baseman had four hits, including a three-run homer, to lead the Giants to a big 10-3 win over the Washington Nationals on Friday. Panik hurt his finger on the final game of the last homestand and originally wasn't sure how much he would be able to play this week. In four road games, he has nine hits in 16 at-bats.
Given the circumstances, the win was one of the best of the season for the Giants. They didn't arrive in the nation's capital until 5:30 a.m. on Friday, and they crushed a Nationals team that had won 10 straight. The Giants scored four runs off tough right-hander Doug Fister, who had given up just four earned runs in his past six starts combined.
Panik's defensive miscue led to a Nationals run in the first inning. With runners on first and second, the Nationals attempted a double-steal. The lead runner, Anthony Rendon, alertly raced home when Panik dropped Buster Posey's throw to second.
The rookie more than made up for his mistake three innings later. After two-out singles by Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse, Panik put an easy swing on Fister's first-pitch fastball that cut right back over the heart of the plate. The ball kept carrying and drifted over the wall just to the right of the 402-foot mark in center field. The homer was the first of Panik's big league career, and he couldn't hide a wide smile as he high-fived Sandoval and Morse and then got a bear hug from hitting coach Hensley Meulens.
The Nationals inched a run closer in the bottom of the inning when Jayson Werth took Tim Hudson deep. But Posey struck back with a solo homer in the sixth, his second in two days. Fister, one of the National League's best starters, had given up just two homers in his previous seven starts before Panik and Posey took him deep.
Once the bullpens took over, the Giants pressed down on the gas. They scored two runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth. The Nationals gave up 23 total runs during their 10-game winning streak.
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