Giants lose to Nationals after Cabrera suspended
By JANIE McCAULEY
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Bruce Bochy called his San Francisco Giants together for an impromptu pregame team meeting with some disheartening news: They will be without Melky Cabrera for the remainder of the regular season.
Cabrera was suspended 50 games Wednesday for a positive testosterone test, a devastating blow only 90 minutes before the Giants lost their series finale to Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals 6-4.
Suddenly, San Francisco's playoff hopes are unclear minus one of the club's top hitters.
"We're disappointed," Bochy said. "Melky was having a real nice year for us. Our thoughts are right now, we move on. That's all you can do. That's all you can do whether it's an injury or something like this. This team will remain focused on trying to win ballgames. That's where we're at right now. That never changes."
Brandon Crawford hit a two-run single for the Giants, who fell one game back of rival Los Angeles in the NL West race after the Dodgers won at Pittsburgh.
"We lose one of the best players, but we have to move on," center fielder Angel Pagan said. "We've got a good team and we've got to keep playing. There's nothing we can do about it."
For the Giants, losing the game was secondary to losing Cabrera. The news broke about an hour before first pitch, and even Bochy was planning to play Cabrera until he got word.
Major League Baseball announced Cabrera tested positive for testosterone - and he won't be back until either next season or at the earliest the playoffs, depending how far San Francisco were to advance.
"My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used," Cabrera said in a statement released by the union. "I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down."
Cabrera is batting .346 with 11 home runs and 60 RBIs in his first season with San Francisco and is five hits shy of 1,000 in his big league career.
"Ultimately, it was just a bad decision," catcher Buster Posey said. "That's all I'm going to say."
Strasburg (14-5) capped Washington's longest road trip of the season by winning his third straight start. He outpitched Tim Lincecum in the process.
Danny Espinosa hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the third inning, Jayson Werth drove in three runs and Kurt Suzuki added a sacrifice fly for Washington, which won a fourth straight series and now heads home for key series against division opponents New York and Atlanta.
Strasburg struck out seven and walked four in six innings, allowing two runs and four hits.
"He pitches. Guys talk about his power stuff but he knows what he's doing out there," said Suzuki, who came to the Nationals in an Aug. 3 trade from Oakland. "He's got all the hype around him. Being on the outside looking in, you always wonder. Being in a different league, and now to be catching him, you see what it's all about."
Lincecum's latest shaky outing was over after just four innings. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner (6-13) lost his second straight start after winning three of the previous four for the Giants, who ended a stretch playing for 20 straight days and will have a day off Thursday in San Diego ahead of a weekend series with the Padres.
Lincecum learned of Cabrera's suspension from TV.
"Yeah it's shocking. It's something we're just going to have to deal with from here on out," he said.
Lincecum struck out five and walked one but labored for most of his brief outing. He threw 38 pitches in the first inning when Washington scored twice, then gave up a towering drive to right-center by Espinosa in the third before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fourth.
That ended Lincecum's best stretch of the season - he had allowed only five earned runs over 20 innings going into the game - and left the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner once again searching for answers.
Strasburg, on the other hand, was quietly effective while beating the Giants for the second time in his career.
The Nationals right-hander allowed Crawford's single in the second after opening the inning with back-to-back walks but was otherwise strong in his first outing at the Giants waterfront ballpark.
He struck out Posey in the third after a nine-pitch duel with the All-Star catcher, then struck out the side in the fifth.
Espinosa's home run was his 13th of the season and fourth in his past 12 games.
The umpire crew turned to instant replay to determine whether Michael Morse's hit to lead off the fifth was a home run or a double off the top of the wall in right-center. The double stood, and Morse extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
Tyler Clippard pitched the ninth for the Nationals, allowing a two-out single to pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez and an unearned run when first baseman Adam LaRoche lost Pablo Sandoval's popup for an error that allowed Sanchez to score from second. Clippard held on for his 25th save.
Sandoval insists the Giants will move forward without Cabrera.
"We are a team. We're trying to make the playoffs," Sandoval said. "We're going to fight."
Notes: After the game, the Giants optioned RHP Dan Otero to Triple-A Fresno and they're likely to call up two hitters Friday. ... Posey will be behind the plate as much as possible in the coming weeks without him getting worn down. ... Nationals skipper Davey Johnson on Bochy: "Bochy reminds me of Whitey Herzog trying to get all those switch-hitters in there. Whitey liked to get eight of `em in if he could." ... Cabrera had been in the original lineup batting third and playing LF. Gregor Blanco played in his place and added an RBI single. "We're going to fight it off and continue to play," Blanco said. "Just deal with it. Everybody passes through tough times." ... Lincecum failed to reach five innings for the sixth time in his 25 starts this year. Before this season, he'd done so only 15 times. ... San Francisco's Brandon Belt has nine hits in his past 16 at-bats and is hitting .407 (24 for 59) in his past 18 games. ... Home run king Barry Bonds attended the game and received a standing ovation when he made an early exit.
Updated August 15, 2012