"The issue is getting picked off, it's not the fact that we got a home run afterwards. We're equally at fault if we get picked off whether we hit the home run next or not."—Jim Riggleman, on the daily baserunning gaffe that cost the Nats a run, Sept. 1, 2009.
THE RESULT: The Washington Nationals managed just four hits off a pitcher that gave up nine hits and six earned runs in his last appearance, as Clayton Richard and the San Diego Padres beat the Nats 4-1, before 15,131 at Petco Park.
The Nationals have lost five in a row, are 2-6 on the road trip, and have lost 12 of their last 15.
Richard (W, 8-4, 4.61) allowed only one run, on Josh Bard's solo home run in the seventh inning. It should have been a two-run shot, but Elijah Dukes was picked off at first base on the previous pitch.
Dukes has stolen two bases this season and has been caught 10 times.
The offensive performance detracts from another quality start. J.D. Martin (L, 3-4, 4.60) went six innings, and allowed three runs—two earned—on five hits and three walks. He also struck out five. He needed 104 pitches to set through six innings.
THE TAKEAWAY: This makes three consecutive games the Nats have managed just one run. Last night, Riggleman tried to shake up the lineup by batting Justin Maxwell at leadoff and Alberto Gonzalez in the two hole.
Maxwell has a lifetime MLB OBP of .273 and hit .242/.344/.396 in 448 plate appearances in Triple-A this season. Gonzalez has an OBP of .290 this season in 249 PAs.
Needless to say, the pair combined to go 1-for-7 with one walk, a combined OBP of .250.
Not that the veterans in the middle of the order did any better. The 3-4-5 hitters went 1-for-11 with one walk and five strikeouts, four by Josh Willingham alone.
THE GOOD: Martin. He and the rest of the "kiddie corps" starters keep plugging away, giving the team a chance to stay in these games. But with no offense, it's tough to be competitive, especially on the road.
THE BAD: Dukes. C'mon big guy. Cut it out. Stay close to the bag.
THE UGLY: Willingham. Hammer struck out four times last night. As good as he was earlier this season, that's how bad he is right now. Since his average peaked at .309 on Aug. 9, he's gone 13-for-69 (.188/.278/.362) in a 20-game span. Ugh.
NEXT GAME: The Nats try to avoid getting swept by a fellow last place team this afternoon at 3:35 pm EDT. John Lannan (8-9, 3.95) faces Kevin Correia (9-10, 4.50).