Good, Bad & Ugly: Nationals Start Winning Streak!

Dave Nichols@@DaveNicholsDSPSenior Analyst IJune 3, 2009

PHOENIX - MAY 10:  Anderson Hernandez #6 of the Washington Nationals bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the major league baseball game at Chase Field on May 10, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Nationals 10-8.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

"The floodgates opened up, and we couldn't stop them." --Giants manager Bruce Bochy, June 2, 2009.

THE RESULT: The Washington Nationals used a six-run explosion in the eighth inning to beat the San Francisco Giants, 10-6, snapping a six-game losing streak before 17,331 at Nationals Park last night.
The Nats are now 14-36-1 on the season.
On a day where bad news ruled, the Nats ended it in grand fashion, beating up three Giants relievers in the eighth inning, pushing a six-pack of runs across the plate without the benefit of a home run.
Trailing 5-4 entering the eighth, the Nats got contributions from the entire lineup to overtake the Giants.
Josh Bard started the inning with a single to center, and manager Manny Acta pinch-ran for Bard with Wil Nieves. Anderson Hernandez followed with a single, moving Nieves up to second. Alberto Gonzalez, pinch-hitting for winning pitcher Ron Villone (W, 3-0, 0.00 in 14 IP), got the run parade started, singling to center off Bobby Howry, plating Nieves and moving Hernandez to third.
Bochy lifted Howry and went to lefty Merkin Valdez. Cristain Guzman greeted him with a single, which scored Hernandez. After Nick Johnson whiffed, Ryan Zimmerman tattooed a ball to deep right field, clearing the bases.
But the Nats wouldn't stop there. After the Giants intentionally walked Adam Dunn, Bochy called on hard-throwing Justin Miller.
Elijah Dukes, making his return from the DL, doubled in Zimmerman on Miller's second pitch. Austin Kearns was given a free pass to load the bases so Miller could face Nieves.
The backup catcher with one career home run took a ball to the wall that missed being a grand slam by mere feet, but it was enough to plate the Nats' sixth run of the inning; the tenth of the game.
Nats starter Craig Stammen gave up five runs—four earned, on seven hits and one walk over six innings.
THE TAKEAWAY: Very simply: RELIEF! The Nats get a much-needed win on a day that they'd just as soon forget otherwise.
They fired pitching coach Randy St. Claire earlier in the day, replacing him with Triple-A coach Steve McCatty.
Later, the team announced that starting catcher Jesus Flores would likely miss the remainder of the season with a stress fracture in his right shoulder.
Insult and injury.
THE GOOD: Anderson Hernandez. He went 3-for-5 with two runs, an RBI, and two stolen bases. Josh Bard went 3-for-4 with a solo home run.
THE BAD: Joel Hanrahan gave up three hits and a run in his one inning of work in the ninth.
THE UGLY: Josh Bard made a play that cost his team two runs. With two runners on, Stammen walked Aaron Rowand on a pitch in the dirt that got past Bard. He slid to his left to pick up the ball and threw a backhanded, over the shoulder toss that sailed past Stammen covering the plate.
It was so wild, a second runner scored on the same play. It was something a little leaguer would have tried.
NEXT GAME: Tonight against the Giants Jordan Zimmermann (2-2, 6.07) hosts Randy Johnson (4-4, 5.71). The veteran, and mortal lock for the Hall of Fame, is looking for his 300th career victory.


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