WASHINGTON -- Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy had no shot of playing Sunday, but when third base umpire Paul Emmel raised his rabbit ears in the third inning, the two veteran starters were ejected for complaining that opposing pitcher Stephen Strasburg wasn't coming to a full stop in his windup.
All that did was keep Hudson and Peavy from having a front-row seat for an epic Giants meltdown. They led 5-0 early and 6-2 going into the bottom of the sixth but fell 14-6 to a Washington Nationals team that looks to be the class of the league.
Ryan Vogelsong didn't give up a hit through the first three innings. The bullpen gave up 14 in the final 22/3 innings, and the Nationals scored six runs in the sixth and five more in the eighth. The Giants had not given up more than 10 runs in a game this season, and the 18 hits allowed marked a season high.
"We just couldn't stop them," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It was one of those innings (in the sixth) where we just couldn't stop the bleeding, and then it got ugly from there."
The decisive inning included a decision that in hindsight looked like the wrong one. Vogelsong took advantage of an early cushion and felt he was getting stronger as the game went on. Bochy preferred to lean on his relievers, and when Vogelsong gave up a solo homer to Ian Desmond with one out in the sixth, the manager made his move. Bochy thought he could get two innings out of Jeremy Affeldt. He didn't get an out.
"He was approaching 100 pitches," Bochy said of Vogelsong, who threw 95 in 51/3 innings. "We had a fresh Affeldt. I'll take those matchups every time. It just didn't work out."
Vogelsong has always prided himself on carrying a heavy load, especially against marquee pitchers such as Strasburg. That line of thinking has only hardened since Matt Cain went down with a season-ending elbow injury.
"I kind of felt like I needed to step up," Vogelsong said. "I knew we got Jake and he's got a great track record, but I felt I needed to step up. I feel like I'm throwing the ball really well."
Vogelsong didn't leave any doubt with his comments: He felt as if this was his game, and he wanted to stay in after the homer. He said that pitch was simply a mistake, not a sign of a pitcher wearing down.
"We've been around each other long enough that he knows what I'm about," Vogelsong said of Bochy. "He knows that I don't want to come out of the game. He made the decision today. He's the manager, and if he wants to ask me how I feel, he'll ask me. That's why he has the title of manager. That's why he runs the team."
Regardless, the bullpen was going to have to get outs, whether it was six, nine or the 11 that Bochy settled on. The group had a collective 1.89 ERA in the second half entering Sunday's game but was incapable of putting away the Nationals or even of keeping the game close. Affeldt did most of the damage in an inning where his sinker was cutting on him, not sinking. The Nationals had two doubles, three singles and three runs before Affeldt was pulled.
"Sometimes you get away with it -- today I didn't," he said. "It's frustrating. I take full responsibility for that game."
Affeldt was far from the only one in for a long flight home. The Giants didn't commit an official error, but several players had poor days in the field. Jean Machi, Javier Lopez and Juan Gutierrez joined Affeldt in giving up 11 runs on 14 hits.
"It's frustrating for all of us," Affeldt said. "I didn't come in and set a very good tone, and I obviously put guys in positions they didn't need to be in and gave (the Nationals) momentum."
Washington has won 12 of 13, racing to the top of the N.L. The Giants continue to search for the same turbo button. They felt they played well enough to go 5-1 on this trip, but they ended up 3-3.
"Obviously it's a difference of opinion," Hudson said. "But I think we should all be playing by the same rules."
Hudson was ejected first. Peavy complained about that ejection and was also sent off as he yelled, "That's a joke. That's a joke."
Colorado (Tyler Matzek 2-9) at Giants (Jake Peavy 3-12), 7:15 p.m. CSNBA