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05/13/09 3:49 AM ET

Beimel unable to save Nationals' night

Two-out homer sinks Washington; Zimmerman ups streak

SAN FRANCISCO -- For the Nationals, Tuesday's loss to the Giants on a walk-off three-run homer by Pablo Sandoval off reliever Joe Beimel was way too familiar.

The bullpen has been the Achilles' heel, losing game after game and struggling to preserve leads. Manager Manny Acta has tried to mix and match, but nothing seems to work. On Tuesday, the Nationals came back from a four-run deficit only to watch Beimel blow the lead in the ninth.

"We just couldn't get it done. We have tried everybody and their cousins, and we still can't get anybody to put a zero up there in the eighth and the ninth innings," said Acta after the Nats' 9-7 loss to the Giants at AT&T Park. "It's really just killing us. We're going to have to go back to square one."

Beimel looked sharp getting the first two batters of the ninth inning out. Then after a single by Emmanuel Burriss, Beimel threw low at first base on a pickoff attempt and the ball got away, advancing Burriss to second. Edgar Renteria followed with a walk and Sandoval did the rest.

"I got two outs, but I just didn't finish it off," Beimel said. "I tried to go with a sinker away, but it cut back across the middle of the plate, and he hit it pretty well. It's definitely frustrating for the team."

The Nationals' pitching staff wasted another solid performance by their offense. After scoring eight runs Sunday against the Diamondbacks and seven Monday in the opening game against the Giants, the Nationals kept firing on offense, putting seven more runs on the board Tuesday.

The problem is they lost all three games, and there doesn't seem to be an answer in the bullpen.

"The starting pitching is the youngest part of our team and they've done well," said Ryan Zimmerman, who extended his hitting streak to 30 games with a single in the first inning. "Unfortunately, the guys who pitch in the second half of the game haven't been able to get it done. That's been the story of our season."

Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann did what he could through six innings, allowing five runs on seven hits while striking out eight. Zimmermann pitched well for the most part, but he was hurt by two bad innings in which the Giants scored five runs.

In the first inning after hitting Renteria, Zimmermann got Sandoval to ground out but walked Bengie Molina to set the table for Randy Winn. Winn took advantage, hitting a double to right-center field, scoring both runners.

Then in the fifth inning, Zimmermann gave up RBI singles to Travis Ishikawa and Renteria. Renteria's single came with two outs and knocked in two runs.

"Tonight I walked a guy and gave up a hit and that's how big innings start," Zimmermann said. "I just have to go out there and try to calm myself down. Maybe I'm too amped up in the beginning of the games."

The Nationals didn't let a four-run deficit quiet their bats. Nick Johnson tied his career high with five RBIs, including a three-run homer in the seventh inning that cut the Giants' lead to 5-4. Cristian Guzman, Johnson and Zimmerman paced the offense with two hits apiece.

"We have to pick ourselves up and go out there tomorrow and get a win," said Johnson. "You never want to lose games. That was a tough one, but tomorrow is a new day and we have to play better."

Jayson Addcox is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.