In that first inning, for example, they had the bases loaded with two outs off Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, but Wilson Ramos grounded out to second, ending the threat.
Three innings later, Washington had runners on first and third with one out, but Michael Taylor popped up to second and then Kelby Tomlison and Stephen Strasburg struck out to end the inning.
After the game, manager Matt Williams appeared frustrated. He said the team is a letting a lot of fastballs go by.
"I think, for the most part, we are not even swinging at [the fastballs]. We need to swing at the fastball. ... It may be the first pitch of the at-bat. You never know," Williams said. "If you get to swing at the fastball, we need to do that."
Since the All-Star break, the Nationals are hitting .224 with a .295 on base percentage and Williams hinted that he may make changes to the lineup on Friday against the Giants.
"We can make some changes. We want opportunities for our guys. We had some in the first inning and that one base hit didn't happen," Williams said. "But none of the less, we have to stay aggressive throughout the game. If we are off the fastball, we need to take [a swing at it]."
Shortstop Ian Desmond has a way for the Nationals to get out of their second half slump, and it's not about changing hitting mechanics. It's about being patient.
"The only way to get out of it is believe in yourself, believe in the team. I think everyone is on that same [page]." Desmond said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.