"Where do you go? Where do you look? You look at yourself first. Tonight it was me. Other nights everybody has had a chance to pull through or do the right things, and unfortunately for us it hasn't been that way too much. Talent is one thing, and not getting it done is another." --Ron Villone, Sept. 24, 2009.
THE RESULT: Despite three different comebacks, the Washington Nationals eventually fell to the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers 7-6, before 22,432 at Nationals Park. The game tool 3:41 to play, featuring nine pitching changes.
Washington's record falls to 52-100, the first team to 100 losses this season.
The Nationals, 59-102 last season, are the first NL franchise to drop 100 games in back-to-back years since the San Diego Padres, who lost 102 in both 1973 and 1974. In five seasons in Washington, the Nationals already have matched the number of 100-loss seasons the franchise had during its 36 seasons as the Montreal Expos—including the inaugural 110-loss season as an expansion team in 1969.
The Nats are the first NL franchise since the 1970s to post triple digits losses in consecutive seasons.
Rafael Furcal's eighth inning home run—his ninth of the season—off reliever Ron Villone (L, 4-6, 4.36) was the difference-maker in this contest. Furcal finished 4-for-5 with two runs. Matt Kemp went 3-for-5 with two runs, three RBI, a homer and a triple, which Josh Willingham thought went for a home run after leaping at the wall, but the ball fell to his feet and fans had to tell him the ball was still in play.
The Dodgers got to starter J.D. Martin quickly. Furcal, Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez all singled consecutively at the start off the game, producing a 1-0 lead in the first. Pitching coach Steve McCatty visited the mound to no avail, as Kemp hit Martin's next pitch over the wall in left-center for a three-run homer, giving him 100 RBI on the year.
L.A. added another in the frame to go up 4-0. But the Nats had fight in this one. They answered in the second off Vicente Padilla, getting three runs from an Elijah Dukes double, Alberto Gonzalez single and sacrifice fly from newcomer Jamie Burke, making his first home start on his birthday.
But Martin could not hold the Dodgers down, as they responded with a run of their own in the third. Martin would not return for a fourth inning. He gave up five earned runs on six hits and two walks, striking out four.
The Nats tied the game up in the sixth, with RBI singles from pinch-hitter Cristian Guzman and Willie Harris, but Furcal hit his home run in the eighth. The Nationals had a chance to tie in the bottom half, but Harris was thrown out at home by Andre Ethier on Adam Dunn's two-out single to right.
Nats went quietly against Jonathan Broxton (36th save) in the ninth.
THE TAKEAWAY: What can one say about loss No. 100? Joe Torre, manager of the Dodgers, summed it up best: "This game," Torre said, "was a very frustrating game." And he won. The pace was excruciating. Padilla needed 103 pitches to get through five innings, and Martin threw 68 in just three frames.
But loss 100 was a microcosm of the season. Lousy starting pitching, shaky defense, runners thrown out on the bases, questionable managerial decisions, and the bullpen blew it. What more could anyone want!
THE GOOD: Alberto Gonzalez. He went 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI.
THE BAD: J.D. Martin. At least he didn't take the loss, so he still remains the Nats only home for a starter to finish the season with a winning record.
THE UGLY: Three hours and forty-one minutes. Ugh.
NEXT GAME: Tonight, the Nats welcome in the Atlanta Braves. John Lannan (9-12, 4.07) takes on Javier Vazquez (14-9, 2.91).