Nationals Swept By Twins, Lose 9-3

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, June 19, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

Minneapolis--The Washington Nationals are getting plenty of base hits. They pounded out another ten hits in Thursday's 9-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins, completing a three-game sweep. But with a decided lack of power on the current roster, the Nats have to string together multiple hits to score, not give away outs on the base paths, and make sure they don't give the other team extra outs when they are at bat. And right now, the Nats aren't doing any of those things.

Thursday's game was another prime example of what happens when you get runners on base but there's no on to drive them in. In all but the first, second and seventh innings, the Nats had men on, usually multiple runners, but managed only three runs against Twins starter Glen Perkins, who had not won in his last four starts. Perkins (W, 3-2, 4.39) pitched eight innings, allowing those three earned runs on ten hits and one walk, striking out two. Nine of the ten hits were singles. The only extra-base hit for the Nats was Dmitri Young's third home run of the season in the eighth inning -- a solo shot -- when the contest was alreeady out of doubt.

To make matters worse, Shawn Hill struggled again Thursday, as he gave up two runs in the second, one in the third and four in the fourth before being relieved. Hill's line (3.2 IP, 7 runs, 6 earned, 10 hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks) was every bit as bad as it sounded. He walked two of the first three batters he faced, but escaped the first inning unscathed as Alexi Casilla was actually thrown out trying to steal second base by back-up catcher Wil Nieves. Hill (L, 1-4, 5.22) would have no such luck in the following innings. In the second, Hill walked lead-off hitter Michael Cuddyer, who immediately scored on Jason Kubel's triple -- a ball that Elijah Dukes badly misplayed. Brian Buscher pushed Kubel home with an infield hit, and the Nats found themselves down two after two innings.

The Nats went 1-2-3 in the first two inning but drew blood in the third. Felipe Lopez led off with a single and took second on Nieves' infield single. Cristian Guzman followed with an RBI single, and Dukes did the same, knotting it up at two apiece. But the bottom of the frame would bring more damage to Shawn Hill's ERA, as Joe Mauer led off with a single and scored on Cuddyer's double to left. The fourth inning would be no easier, as the Twins scored four more times, including a two-run triple by Cuddyer, a Mauer RBI single, and sacrifice fly by Casilla. Down 7-2 after four innings, the competitive portion of this game was over.

The Nats got two runners on in both the fourth and fifth innings, but could not find that elusive hit to drive the runners home.

The Twins added two more insurance runs in the seventh, and Joel Hanrahan helped them out. Hanrahan walked Cuddyer leading off, gave up a double to Kubel (2-for-4) and uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Cuddyer to walk home and Kubel move up to third. Kubel scored when Brian Buscher hit a sacrifice to right. Cuddyer had a great day all around. In addition to going 2-for-2 with two walks, two runs, and two RBIs, he also made two outstanding jumping catches in right field in front of the giant baggie that serves as the outfield wall in the Metrodome.

The Nationals return home on Friday to host the Texas Rangers in a three-game series. Friday's pitchers are Tim Redding (6-3, 4.10) and Kevin Millwood (5-3, 4.75)

NATS NOTES: The loss leaves the Nats record at 29-45, thirteen games behind Philadelphia entering the evening's contests.

Paul LoDuca had the day off to rest his hands, both his right one that was broken causing him to miss five weeks on the DL, and the left one that he jammed trying to catch Aaron Boone's errant throw in Wednesday's game. LoDuca is 1-for-8 since returning to the line-up.

With LHP Odalis Perez on the DL for at least another week due to shoulder tendonitis, the Nats will call up RH Garrett Mock Saturday for another spot start.

Nationals Swept By Twins, Lose 9-3 also posted at DC Sports Box.