All Quiet Again, Nats Lose to Pirates 3-1

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, June 12, 2008 | , , , , , | 0 comments »

Pittsburgh, PA--On a day when Manager Manny Acta, General Manager Jim Bowden and right fielder Elijah Dukes remained mum on the subject of their closed door meeting after last night's confrontation in the dugout, the Washington Nationals bats observed the code of silence as well, managing only one run and seven hits against four Pittsburgh pitchers, and fell to the Pirates 3-1 before 15,439 at PNC Park.

The incident in the dugout -- where Acta confronted Dukes after Lastings Milledge's home run in the ninth inning giving the Nats the lead and eventual win -- was widely talked about in the media journal pages and had the "Natosphere" on fire throughout the day. It unfortunately overshadowed what should have been a cherished come-from-behind win, as the Nats broke loose for five home runs, two by Ronnie Belliard.

Unable to savor the victory, instead a pall hung over the Nats offense Wednesday night, who never really threatened against starter Ian Snell (W, 3-6, 5.33) and a trio of relievers, finishing with Matt Capps earning his sixteenth save, the pitcher victimized the previous night by Milledge. Snell pitched six innings and allowed one earned run on six hits and three walks. The Nats had their chances against Snell, getting runners on base in each of the first three innings, but never drawing blood in the early going.

But the Nats offense going silent is not an unusual occurrence, particularly when John Lannan is on the hill. Lannan "leads" the majors in lack of run support, receiving less than 2.7 runs per start from his hitters, and they lowered that average in this game. Lannan (L, 4-7, 3.43) turned in another quality start, as he went six full innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits and no walks, striking out three. He surrendered Jason Bay's RBI double in the first inning and Ryan Doumit's eleventh home run -- his third of this series -- in the fifth. He flirted with trouble in other innings, but managed to keep the Pirates to two runs during his tenure.

The Nationals got their run in the seventh, as Felipe Lopez doubled to the gap in right, Willie Harris walked and Dukes singled to center, driving in Lopez. But there would be no home runs, no celebrations and no confrontations in this game -- a game where the Nats seemed devoid of energy from the very beginning.

The rubber match of the series is Thursday afternoon at 12:35 pm EDT. Jason Bergmann (1-3, 5.23) looks to rebound from a sub-par performance last time out against Tom Gorzelanny (4-5, 6.83), who has been a major disappointment for the Bucs this season.

NATS NOTES: The loss puts the Nats record at 26-41, thirteen games behind division leading Philadelphia.

The team announced Ryan Zimmerman will be out another four to six weeks -- at least. After being evaluated by Dr. Tim Kremcheck of Cincinnati, the team said that Zimmerman has about a "70 percent" chance of avoiding surgery. Zimmerman will continue with a strength and conditioning program for his injured left shoulder.

GM Jim Bowden commented on the matter, "We will know at the All-Star break if he will [need surgery]. If in fact he's not better at the All-Star break, then at that time we'll operate so that he's 100 percent for next year. We will not wait until the season's over to risk going into next year."