More than two months will pass before the Giants see the Nationals again in Washington. The baseball landscape will change often before then, some teams rising and others falling. Injuries, fate and performance will make the standings look different than they do now.

There is no way in mid-June to divine whether that three-game series at Nationals Park will pit the two best teams in the National League. Then again, who would bet against it?

In a four-game series that ended Thursday with the Giants finally winning, 7-1 behind a dominant Tim Hudson, the Nationals staked their claim as the NL's top dog by taking three of four from a San Francisco team that spent the past two months cobbling the majors' best record.

Moreover, the Nationals did it without one of the league's best hitters, Bryce Harper, who is expected to return from a thumb injury next month.

And yet, as bad as the series was for the Giants, they maintained the majors' best record at 43-24 and had just one game chipped off their 9 1/2-game NL West lead.

The Giants' world would not have spun off its axis had they incurred their first-ever four-game sweep at AT&T Park and dropped two games to the second-place Dodgers, but averting that brought great relief inside the clubhouse.

"It's not fun to be in a situation where you're fighting not to get swept at home," manager Bruce Bochy said. "There's a lot of pride involved."

The Giants also had to be satisfied that they sent Matt Williams' club to the airport with a snapshot of how they built their gaudy record.