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07/24/08 7:50 PM ET

Redding reaches finish line as mates lag

Pitcher's complete-game masterpiece wasted in shutout loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Nationals right-hander Tim Redding and Giants right-hander Matt Cain found themselves in a pitchers' duel at AT&T Park on Thursday afternoon.

When it was over, it was Cain who won the battle as San Francisco defeated the Nationals, 1-0.

The Giants not only swept the three-game series, but went undefeated in seven games against Washington this year. San Francisco swept a four-game series in Washington.

Redding ended up pitching the game of his life. He completed his first big league game, pitching eight innings and giving up the one run on seven hits. Redding struck out five batters and walked none.

It was only the second complete game for the Nationals this season and both came in defeats. Right-hander Jason Bergmann pitched the first one on May 31 against the Diamondbacks.

"It felt good that I was able to get deep into the game," Redding said. "It was a relief to give the bullpen a day off. It's good to help those guys out because they come in and help us way more times than we help them.

"It was one of those days when I wanted to throw something; I knew I could throw it the way I wanted."

There was great defense behind Redding and two plays stood out. In the fourth inning, left fielder Ryan Langerhans made a diving catch to rob Rich Aurilia of an extra-base hit. In the fifth, Emanuel Burris tried to bunt for a base hit, but Redding made a nice play to get him out.

Redding's only blemish came in the bottom of the eighth inning. With pinch-runner Eugenio Velez on second, Dave Roberts took a fastball and singled up the middle to drive in Velez.

"Ninety-eight percent of the time, he pops that ball up to shortstop or shallow left field," Redding said. Shortstop Cristian Guzman "almost made a great play that just missed the end of his glove."

Cain ended up pitching a shutout as he gave up only four hits, but he came close of losing the shutout -- and the game -- in the bottom of the ninth inning. With one out, Willie Harris singled and Guzman doubled to put runners on second and third.

Instead of walking Ryan Zimmerman to load the bases, Cain decided to challenge the right-handed hitter. On an 0-1 pitch, Zimmerman hit a shallow fly ball to right fielder Randy Winn, who threw a perfect strike to catcher Bengie Molina. Harris had no chance of scoring and held up.

"Cain threw back-to-back sliders. It was a little more up than the first one, but it was both pitches I could do something with. He didn't really throw sliders all game," Zimmerman said. "I was looking for a pitch I could drive. ... I just didn't hit it deep enough."

Said Cain, "I almost wanted him to beat me. It would make me feel better to really go at him, to really just challenge him to try to see what he could do."

Winn has a reputation of having an average arm and Harris felt it was not wise to try to score the tying run.

"The ball was way too shallow to tag up on," Harris said. "We knew that Randy Winn's arm is not that great. It was one of those situations where I was going to continue to go had it been a high throw, off line or something like that. But with [Austin] Kearns coming up and swinging good, it's another shot to drive me in."

Kearns worked the count to 3-2, but he hit a fly ball to Winn to end the game. The Nationals are now 38-64 for the season. They are now tied with the Padres for the worst record in baseball.

Although it was a well played game by both sides, Nationals manager Manny Acta refused to look at a moral victory.

"I don't enjoy any game that I lose. I enjoy games that I win," Acta said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.