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NYM@SF: Morse launches a walk-off single in the 9th

It's readily apparent how well-liked and respected Michael Morse is among his Giants teammates.

Glance around the clubhouse and chances are you'll see three or four teammates wearing Star Wars-themed "May The Morse Be With You" T-shirts, featuring Morse in a Jedi robe wielding a lightsaber.

Having Morse on their side has been a boon for the Giants this season. Morse is hitting .275 with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs heading into Tuesday's game against his former team, the Nationals.

The Giants are happy to have him, and he's happy to be a Giant. The hope is this marriage's honeymoon phase never ends.

"This team, it's a team where you look around the locker room and not only am I a player here, but I'm a fan of everybody here," Morse said. "Everyone's done something incredible in their career. They want to win, they know how to win and they've won before. I come in here, it's a relaxed atmosphere and I'm just having fun."

Fun isn't the word to describe the end of Morse's four-year tenure in Washington. The Nationals were eliminated after blowing a six-run lead in the decisive Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Cardinals in 2012. Morse was traded to Seattle the following January.

The heartbreaking end to 2012 was a topic of discussion for Morse and his new teammates upon Morse's arrival in San Francisco -- had they not blown the lead, the Nationals would have faced the Giants in the NL Championship Series.

"You look back, and it just shows you ... with this game, you never know what can happen. Who knows what could've happened if Strasburg pitched or if we did something different," Morse said, referencing the organization's decision to not exceed an imposed innings limit on phenom Stephen Strasburg. "It just shows you that you can be on top one year and the next year not be in the playoffs or anything.

"You've just got to play to win that day and I feel like you've got to play to win that year."

The loss still stings, and he remains close friends with current Nationals Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth, but this week's four-game set against Washington is "just another series," according to Morse.

"When I was with D.C., they treated me with so much respect and gave me a chance to play every day. I can't really thank them enough," Morse said. "If it wasn't for playing there, I probably wouldn't be here."

Nationals: Fister gearing for World Series rematch
This won't be the first time Nationals right-hander Doug Fister has matched up with Madison Bumgarner.

Tuesday's pitching matchup will be a repeat of Game 2 of the 2012 World Series. Fister, then a member of the Detroit Tigers, will hope for a better fate than the one he experienced that night.

Fister, who was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Gregor Blanco in the second inning, was dealt a tough-luck loss, allowing just one run on four hits in six innings against the eventual World Series champion Giants.

Bumgarner, meanwhile, was just a tick better, throwing seven scoreless innings with eight strikeouts.

The reigning National League Pitcher of the Month comes into Tuesday's matchup with an 8-3 record and a 2.68 ERA. Fister, meanwhile, is 4-1 with a 3.19 ERA in just six starts this season after missing a month with elbow inflammation.

Giants: Leadoff hitter Pagan nears return
It may not have made a difference against Strasburg, but the Giants were without their leadoff sparkplug Monday night.

Angel Pagan missed his second straight start with a shin bruise, but both he and Giants manager Bruce Bochy indicated he could return to the lineup as soon as Tuesday. Pagan pinch-hit in the ninth inning Monday.

Backup outfielder Gregor Blanco filled in for Pagan on Monday, going 1-for-4 in a 9-2 loss to the Nationals.

Pagan, who suffered the injury after sliding into Mets catcher Anthony Recker on Saturday, is batting .321/.371/.431 on the season. He's been pleased with Blanco's production in his absence.

"This is what a team is for," Pagan said. "Sometimes you need somebody to step up and contribute when one of the players is not, and he's ready to do that."

Worth noting:
• The Giants are 10-4 against NL East teams this season.

• The Nationals are 11-5 in games with Ryan Zimmerman in the lineup, including Monday night's victory over the Giants. Zimmerman returned from the disabled list June 3.

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