Losing continues for manager Jim Riggleman and the Nationals after being swept by the San Dieog Padres during a three game series. Cheryl Nichols/DC Sports Box File Photo
SAN DIEGO, CA – After being swept in St. Louis and having trouble scoring runs, the Washington Nationals focused their attention to San Diego – another franchise in transition – and hoped to turn the tide around.
Much like their adventure in St. Louis, despite overall solid pitching, Washington’s offensive woes once again continued in San Diego and they made their opponents on the mound look like aces. The Nationals only scored twice in twenty-seven innings out West, and the triumvirate of Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman, and Josh Willingham only mustered four hits in the three-game set.
In a battle of last place teams, the Padres played like a contender, while the Nationals looked like also-rans.
When the offensive trio struggles, it is little surprise that everyone in the offense follows suit; plus, with Nyjer Morgan and Cristian Guzman out of the lineup due to injury, it’s academic that the scoring chances come few-in-and-far-between in the past week.
This in turn has led Washington to a six-game losing streak.
MONDAY: The Washington Nationals opened up the three-game set out West to with a loss to the Padres, 3-1. The offense could not get anything going despite eights and spoiled a strong outing by starting pitcher Livan Hernandez.
Hernandez (7-9), the burly veteran pitcher, took the loss as he went eight strong innings and earning a complete game. Meanwhile, Hernandez’s opponent on the mound, Tim Stauffer (3-6), was solid and earned the win as he went six and two thirds innings and gave up only a run. Closer Heath Bell earned his 32nd save of the season.
Washington had some chances against Stauffer, but they left eight men on base and hit into two double plays, including a costly 1-2-3 double play that started when Livan Hernandez attempted – perhaps stupidly – to bunt with the bases loaded. The bunt went straight back to the pitcher, who underhanded to the catcher to start the double play.
San Diego scored twice in the first inning off RBI-doubles by David Eckstein and Kevin Kouzmanoff. They raised their lead to 3-0 as Chase Headley hit 10th home run of the year – a solo shot.
TUESDAY: The offensive struggles continued for the Nationals as they could only muster four hits on the evening, and in the end dropped another game to the Padres, 4-1.
Pitcher Clayton Richard (4-1) turned out another stellar start for San Diego as he went six and two thirds innings and allowed a run on four hits. Heath Bell, for the second night in a row, came in for the save – his 33rd of 2009. San Diego used pitching an excellent defense to send Washington to their league leading 87th loss of the season.
Washington’s Josh Bard hit a solo home run in the seventh inning – his fourth of the season – however, his teammates didn’t do much to generate any offense. The triumvirate of Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, and Josh Willingham went for 1-11, and when that happens, it is almost a sure bet that everyone else in the Washington lineup will struggle.
Nationals starting pitcher J.D. Martin (3-4) went six innings, and allowed three runs -- two -earned -- on five hits and three walks, but struck out five. He had a quality start; however, with the offense struggling, he had no chance against San Diego on the night.
The Padres scored off a Max Venable RBI-single in the first, and added their second run off a Kevin Kouzmanoff sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. Oscar Salazar raised the score to 3-0 with a solo homer – his second– in the seventh inning, and the Padres would add another run in the eighth thanks to pinch hitter Drew Macias’ RBI-single.
WEDNESDAY: The Padres brought out the brooms and swept the three game series with the Nationals, defeating them 7-0 thanks to the arm of Kevin Correia, plus an offense onslaught that saw them score five times in the fifth inning.
Southpaw John Lannan had a tough day at the office as he allowed a strong outing to unravel in the fifth inning. He’d gotten two quick outs, but after giving up back-to-back singles, the Padres brought down the hammer as Adrian Gonzalez helped San Diego take a 2-0 with a two RBI-double, and the next batter, Chase Headley followed with a two-RBI double of his own. Moments later, the Padres took a 5-0 lead as Will Venable plated in a run with a RBi-single.
Lannan (8-10) would exit the game after the fifth inning, and would take the loss. He gave up five runs and gave up six hits.
San Diego’s Kevin Correia (10-10) – who started the game on the mound – was brilliant as he went seven and two thirds innings and gave up only three hits.
The Nationals really never mounted a challenge, but they did load up the bases in the eighth inning – which led to Correia’s exit – but they could not take advantage of the opportunity. They only mustered four hits on the night and the combo of Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman had three of them.