"I was going after them. I was a little more aggressive. ... It's no fun giving up home runs."--Craig Stammen, Aug. 12, 2009.
THE RESULTS: The Washington Nationals were once again dominated by Derek Lowe early, and though they were able to get the tying run against him in the seventh inning, the bullpen frittered away the tie game and the Atlanta Braves completed the sweep of the two-game series, 6-2, before 17,886 at Turner Field.
The loss drops the Nats to 40-74, and have lost two straight after their season-high eight game win streak.
Jorge Sosa (L, 1-1, 3.00) gave up a bomb to Adam LaRoche (his 16th of the season and second of the game) in the bottom of the seventh to break a 2-2 tie, and the Braves got three in the eighth, as Sean Burnett turned his least effective performance of his brief Nationals career.
Burnett started the inning allowing Martin Prado's eighth homer of the year. Chipper Jones then singled and Brian McCann doubled, putting runners at second and third. Burnett walked Yunel Escobar intentionally to face LaRoche, who had already homered twice.
When Burnett walked LaRoche, forcing in a run, interim manager Jim Riggleman replaced him with Jason Bergamnn. Bergmann struck out Matt Diaz, but walked pinch-hitter Greg Norton to force in another run, the third run of the inning.
The relief follies spoiled Stammen's quality effort. After allowing two solo home runs int he second inning, he buckled down and gave up just one more hit in six innings. He surrendered just four hits and one walk total, striking out three.
The Nats had their chances, getting nine hits and six walks, and left nine men on base. Nyjer Morgan was caught stealing early, and picked off at first to end the game.
Lowe completed seven innings, and gave up two earned runs on seven hits and four walks, striking out five and was helped by three double plays.
"You can learn from watching Lowe," said Riggleman. "He gets ground balls. That's what he's known for. That's how he gets out of trouble."
THE TAKEAWAY: What can you say about this one? Four homers against. Two more outs on the basepaths. Eight runners left on. Bad relief pitching. Recipe for a loss.
THE GOOD: Adam Dunn. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
THE BAD: Sean Burnett. He was due for a clunker. Three runs on three hits and two walks in one inning. Yuck.
THE UGLY: Morgan getting picked off at the end of the game. Seriously. Nats fans can hardly complain about Morgan's performance to date, but there's no excuse for getting picked off down by four in the ninth inning with a runner ahead of him at second base, no less. One swing there and the Nats were right back in it, theoretically.
NEXT GAME: Washington travels to the Queen City for a four-game set against the Cincinnati Reds. Collin Balester (1-1, 5.21) faces Bronson Arroyo (10-11, 5.04) in the opener tonight.
NOTES: Cristian Guzman and Ryan Zimmerman extended their hitting streaks to 17 and 15 games, respectively.