SAN FRANCISCO -- Before this three-game series between National League powers, Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper took to Twitter to express his excitement about facing the Giants in a ballpark that he called one of his favorite places to play.
For two days, all Harper found at AT&T Park was struggle and controversy. On the third day, he finally took it to the Giants.
The gifted 20-year-old got the better of another talented youngster, Madison Bumgarner, in the sixth inning with a home run, then came up with some late heroics to lead the Nationals to a 2-1, 10-inning win and thwart yet another comeback attempt by the Giants.
"It's fun to play against guys like that," Bumgarner said. "He's the kind of player that brings out the best in you, and that's a good thing."
Bumgarner was at his best Wednesday afternoon, shaking off a rough outing on the last road trip to throw seven strong innings. He gave up just four hits and struck out five, including all three hitters he faced in the first inning.
Bumgarner was cruising until the sixth, when he tried to fire a two-strike fastball past Harper on the outside corner. The pitch missed its spot by just a few inches, and Harper didn't miss, hitting a high homer into the left-field seats and becoming the second-youngest player to homer at AT&T Park.
It was Harper's third hit in nine career at-bats against Bumgarner, himself only 23 years old.
"He's a tough pitcher and a tough lefty-lefty matchup for me," Harper said. "He's one of the best guys I've faced all year."
As the Giants continued to buzz about Pablo Sandoval's walk-off homer from the night before, Harper and the Nationals spent Wednesday morning diffusing a controversy. Closer Rafael Soriano had questioned Harper's positioning on Gregor Blanco's game-tying triple Tuesday, saying even his 4-year-old son would have positioned himself better than Harper did on a failed attempt.
Harper was playing deep in the eighth inning Wednesday as the Giants vied for their second straight comeback win over the Nationals, a popular preseason pick to win the World Series. Angel Pagan started the rally by drawing a walk off Gio Gonzalez, who had been sharp all afternoon. A walk of Marco Scutaro set the table for Buster Posey, who tied the game with a single off Drew Storen.
Hunter Pence followed with a liner to right, but Harper made a sliding catch. Brandon Belt's hard shot to first was swallowed up by a diving effort from Adam LaRoche.
"When you hit it good and they make plays, there's nothing more you can do," Belt said. "You tip your cap to them."
Playing extra innings for the second straight day, the Giants fell behind right away in the 10th after Harper lined a double to right and raced home on Ian Desmond's single, quieting a sellout crowd that was anticipating a 14th come-from-behind win.
Scutaro's blast to left field died at the warning track with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, ending his 19-game hitting streak.
A few minutes later, Harper repeated that he always has fun playing the defending World Series champions.
"It's an electric atmosphere," he said. "I love coming here and playing."
If all goes according to plan for Harper's Nationals and for the Giants, the matchup could be played out again in October.
The right-hander was wearing a heavy cast and a sling as he spoke to reporters but said he is in no pain. He can't work out for a few days but soon will begin cardio work and shoulder exercises. Vogelsong plans to stay with the team as he rehabs and was in the dugout Wednesday, emphatically slapping the dugout rail with his good hand after the Giants tied the game.
"I can bring some things to the table," he said. "Even though I'm not on the field."
Vogelsong said it was too early to set a timetable for his return.
Colorado (Tyler Chatwood 2-0) at Giants (Tim Lincecum 3-3), 7:15 p.m., CSNBA