The last time Drew Storen ran out to the mound in the ninth inning of a playoff game for a save situation was two years ago on a painful night in October. But so much has happened since. Storen has grown, lost his closer’s role, spent time in the minor leagues, become a better pitcher and regained the job over the past month. His return in Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night was supposed to be different. The situation was more manageable.

After Jordan Zimmermann walked Joe Panik with two outs, snapping a streak of 20 straight batters retired, Manager Matt Williams hooked the right-handed starter and inserted Storen. But Storen gave up two hits, the back-breaking double by Pablo Sandoval producing both the game-tying hit and a play at the plate — a controversial tag play of Buster Posey — that sent the game to extra innings.

The Nationals lost to the Giants, 2-1 in 18 innings, and trail 2-0 in the best-of-five series, heading now to San Francisco for Game 3 on Monday. Storen, however, will remain a topic of conversation until he notches another postseason save. In his first save chance since his gut-wrenching blown save in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals, Storen blew another chance.

Asked whether he was reminded of his 2012 NLDS blown save, Storen brushed the notion aide.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “I made quality pitches and they fell in.”

The Washington Nationals lost a second game to the San Francisco Giants in the longest post season game in MLB history. Jordan Zimmermann, Drew Storen, Bryce Harper, Asdrubal Cabrera and Tyler Clippard share their thoughts on what went wrong and why the next game is important. (Whitney Leaming/The Washington Post)

The ninth began with so much promise. Zimmermann was mowing through the Giants’ lineup and took the mound to a standing ovation. He struck out pinch hitter Matt Duffy, then got a flyout from Gregor Blanco. But Zimmermann walked Panik on five pitches. His pitch count sat at 100.

Williams emerged from the dugout and put in Storen, one of the best relievers in baseball this season. He posted a 1.12 ERA. He hadn’t allowed an earned run since Aug. 5, a span of 23 outings. Since taking over as closer in early September, Storen was 10 for 10 in save chances. But when Storen jogged out from the home bullpen in right field Saturday in a 1-0 game, he hadn’t pitched in a week, since Sept. 27.

“Drew has been perfect for us in this situation for us since he’s been our closer, and that’s the time to go [to him],” Williams said.

Storen immediately challenged the first hitter he faced. He fired a 95 mph fastball on the outer edge of the strike zone to Posey. The Giants’ best hitter smacked the ball into center field for a single. Now San Francisco had the game-tying run, Panik, at second base and Storen faced Sandoval.

Storen again relied on his fastball. He fired a first-pitch outside sinker to Sandoval, a ball that the left-handed hitter fouled off. Storen fired another sinker to Sandoval, this time low in the strike zone, and Sandoval slapped the ball down the left field line. The crowd at Nationals Park groaned.

Storen’s sinker has been a weapon for him this season. Opponents hit only .200 (10 for 55) against the pitch this season. Only Storen’s slider (.133) had a lower opponents’ average against. This time in a critical moment, his pitches were hit and fell in for hits.

Panik scored on Sandoval’s double. Left fielder Bryce Harper chased down the ball, fired a strong throw to the cut-off man, shortstop Ian Desmond, who then made another good throw to catcher Wilson Ramos.

Ramos has had trouble in the past with throws from the outfield. But on this play, he fielded the ball and held his glove shut with his right hand. Ramos positioned his body to the left of the plate.

Posey slid into home plate with his right foot out and his left knee tucked under his body. Ramos appeared to tag Posey out on his side. Standing nearby, home plate umpire Vic Carapazza called Posey out. Giants Manager Bruce Bochy raced out of the dugout and challenged the play.

The umpires reviewed the play. Some television replays seemed to show Posey’s foot touching home plate before Ramos’s tag. But during the slide, Posey’s lead foot appeared to pop back up as it hit the dirt. After conferring with replay umpires in New York, the umpires at the game ruled that the play stood, meaning there wasn’t conclusive evidence to overturn it.

Storen kept throwing to Ramos while the umpires reviewed the play, ready to remain in the game if needed. Nationals players huddled near first base waiting. After umpires confirmed Posey was out, the Nationals walked into the dugout. Nine innings later they lost the game, but it was during an eventful ninth for Storen that the game changed directions.