SAN FRANCISCO - Bryce Harper screamed in delight as he crossed the plate with the Nationals ahead at last. After all those extra innings and a subdued cross-country flight, Washington had broken through - with a little help from Madison Bumgarner.
Doug Fister pitched seven shutout innings and the Nationals capitalized on Bumgarner's one off-target throw, staving off elimination in the NL Division Series with a 4-1 win over the Giants on Monday.
The Nationals cut their deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-five series. They ended the Giants' 10-game postseason winning streak that started with Game 5 of the 2012 NL Championship Series against the Cardinals.
Washington scored two runs on Bumgarner's throwing error in the seventh inning to end the ace's 21-inning scoreless streak. Harper punctuated the victory with a solo homer in the ninth.
"Really it came down to every pitch," Fister said. "Fortunately a ball bounced our way."
Drew Storen allowed to the first two batters to reach in the ninth but shook off his postseason struggles, allowing a run in closing it out as Washington forced a Game 4 tonight.
Now, the 96-win Nationals will send left-hander Gio Gonzalez up against San Francisco right-hander Ryan Vogelsong.
"We just needed one break," Storen said. "It's been a tough couple innings here to start and we got our break. It's just a matter of building on it, and we live to see another day."
On a day Bumgarner had been nearly untouchable, his miscue prevented a three-game sweep.
With two runners on, Bumgarner fielded Wilson Ramos' two-strike sacrifice bunt between the mound and the first-base line and fired to third rather than going for the sure out at first.
"We probably should have taken the out of first. I made a mistake telling him to throw to third," catcher Buster Posey said. "It happens. We'll come (today), go through the pregame routine and be ready to go."
Bumgarner's throw sailed wide of Pablo Sandoval's outstretched glove and bounced to the tarp along the leftfield wall before rolling over the bullpen mounds where two relievers were warming up.
Sandoval nearly did the splits trying to make the play and stayed down in pain as both runners scored. Trainers checked on the third baseman and he remained in the game.
"We don't have Ramos bunt with two strikes," Harper said. "So if we don't have him get that bunt down, at least get us on second and third, having that errant throw by Bumgarner was huge for us."
Asdrubal Cabrera followed with an RBI single.
Storen, the beleaguered closer who gave up the tying run in Game 2, allowed Brandon Crawford's sacrifice fly in the ninth before finishing the 2-hour, 47-minute game. It was a far cry from Game 2, which took a postseason record 6:23.