Good, Bad & Ugly: Nationals Lose in Extras; Make Changes After

Dave Nichols@@DaveNicholsDSPSenior Analyst IMay 20, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 13:  Shairon Martis #39 of the WashingtonNationals pitches against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on May 13, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

"We continue to put runs on the board. This is the 10th game in a row where we score five or more runs -- and we're 1-9. That tells you the story right now." --Manny Acta, May 19, 2009.

THE RESULT: The Pittsburgh Pirates scored three runs in the top of the 10th against Washington Nationals reliever Joe Beimel—working his second inning of relief—and came away with an 8-5 victory, their fifth in a row.

The Nats lost their sixth consecutive contest, and ninth out of ten. Washington became only the fourth team in history to lose six straight when they have scored five or more runs in each contest.

The Nats tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, as Nick Johnson walked home on a wild pitch after his fourth career triple. But the Nats couldn't get Ryan Zimmerman home from second base with one out, and the game went into extra innings, where the Nats haven't won all season (Now 0-5).

Ramon Vazquez led off with a single and took second on a sacrifice to Beimel on a play that looked like Beimel had time to get the lead runner. Beimel then intentionally walked Freddy Sanchez to face Nate McLouth. The move worked as McLouth flied out to center.

But that's where Beimel's luck ended, as Adam LaRoche his the next pitch for a double to score Vazquez and Sanchez, and Brandon Moss capped the scoring with a single, pushing LaRoche home.

Vazquez, LaRoche and Moss all bat left-handed, which is what Beimel (L, 0-3, 5.63) is supposed to specialize in.

This was actually a pretty decent game for much of the night. The Pirates jumped ahead 5-0 early against Nats starter Shairon Martis, but the rookie settled down to hold them there, and went on to retire the last 10 batters he faced after surrendering Adam LaRoche's two-run home run in the third.

LaRoche's shot was really the only hard hit ball against Martis, as the damage in the first inning was the result of a couple of bloop hits and a misplayed ball in center by Willie Harris that inexplicably was ruled a double and not a single and error.

Martis gave up five earned runs on five hits and two walks, with two strikeouts.

The Nats chipped away at the lead in the middle innings. Adam Dunn led off the fourth with his 11th home run of the season, which made his mama proud: she was in attendance last night.

In the sixth, Ryan Zimmerman extended his consecutive games on-base streak to 37 with a bunt single, went to second on Dunn's walk and scored on a Willie Harris single. Anderson Hernandez tripled into the right field corner to score Harris, and Wil Nieves knocked in Hernandez with a single.

THE TAKEAWAY: Martis is turning into a pretty good pitcher right before our eyes. The complete game last week got a lot of attention, but last night he didn't have his best stuff, but still only allowed one hard-hit ball in six innings. With a little luck and better defense, the first inning would never have happened.

He made the one mistake to LaRoche, a guy who can turn a mistake around pretty quickly.

THE GOOD: Ron Villone. He pitched two hitless, scoreless innings in relief of Martis to let the Nats have a hope of coming back, which they did.

THE BAD: Cristian Guzman and Josh Willingham were both 0-for-4. But both also walked once, so they weren't a complete loss.

THE UGLY: Joe Beimel. He hasn't been very effective since returning from his hip injury. Is it still bothering him? He should have been able to fool the left-handed batters he was left in to face last night.

Also, how little confidence does Manny Acta have in Joel Hanrahan right now? Despite being labelled the closer again, in a strikeout, closer-type situation with two outs and men on first and third, Acta left Beimel in to face LaRoche in the tenth.

I know it was a lefty-on-lefty situation, but a strikeout gets you out of the inning, and that's what Hanrahan does.

The bullpen is now 1-14 for the season.

NEXT GAME: Tonight at 7:05 PM against the Buccos. John Lannan (2-3, 4.00) hosts Paul Maholm (3-1, 3.51).

NOTES: As has been widely reported, the Nats placed Elijah Dukes on the 15-day DL after the game, DFA'd Alex Cintron (finally) and recalled Justin Maxwell and Jason Bergmann. The Nats will go with an eight-man bullpen for the first time under Manny Acta.

Also, Ross Detwiler earned another start. He will pitch Saturday against Baltimore.

For more Washington Nationals coverage, please visit Nats News Network.


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