Oh, Joel!

Photo 2009 © Cheryl Nichols. All Rights Reserved.

THE RESULT: For the second day in a row, Washington Nationals closer Joel Hanrahan blew a save in the ninth inning, surrendering a tying home run to Jeremy Hermida. Two innings later, Hermida would win the game, homering off Wil Ledezma, and the Nats lost 9-6 to the Florida Marlins.

Florida is now 10-1 on the season, with five of those victories over the Nationals. Washington is 1-9, and losing players to injury at an alarming rate.

Outfielder Roger Bernadina, starting in center field because Elijah Dukes was benched for being late for the game, fractured his ankle crashing into the center field fence after making a circus catch of a Dan Uggla drive in the eighth inning.

He was placed on the 15-day DL immediately following the game, and the team expected to recall Justin Maxwell for Sunday's game.

The late-inning collapse spoiled an otherwise good day at the park. Austin Kearns hit his second career grand slam in the bottom of the first, and Scott Olsen turned in his best performance of his young Nationals career, allowing two earned runs on six hits and one walk in seven innings.

THE TAKEAWAY: There were a couple of causes for concern today. Bernadina's injury is devastating to his career. He will probably miss a couple of month and will seriously stunt his major league development.

Dukes' tardiness, on the surface, was bad. However, he was at a team-approved little league function, so the Nats couldn't be too hard on him. He was fined and reportedly took it professionally and in the spirit it was intended. There were other reports, however, that he was threatened by the team with demotion should it happen again. Mixed signals? An acting GM trying to exert authority?

Stay tuned to "As the Nats Turn".

THE GOOD: Scott Olsen. This makes three quality starts in a row for the starters. He had just one walk and five strikeouts in seven innings, painting the black all day. His velocity, which seemed to be better in his last start, was back to 86-87 today.

THE BAD: Julian Tavarez and Wil Ledezma. The pair combined to seal the Nats' fates this day. Tavarez started the 11th inning walking Ross Gload and letting Wes Helms reach on Alberto Gonzalez' throwing error. Manager Manny Acta brought Ledezma in to face the left-handed Hermida, and promptly allowed the three-run homer.

THE UGLY: Joel Hanrahan. Two days in a row, this struggling team brings a lead into the ninth inning only to see Hanrahan give it back on a home run. Joel, here's a suggestion: Scrap the change-up. Stick with the hard stuff. You're a closer, you don't need three pitches.

NEXT GAME: Sunday at 1:35 p.m. trying to get off the schneid against the Marlins. Daniel Cabrera (0-1, 4.91) attempts to play stopper against Chris Volstad (2-0, 1.50).

NOTES: Alex Cintron, who had his contract bought from by the Nats after they placed Cristian Guzman on the 15-day DL, made his Nats debut. He struck out in his only appearance.

Happy Birthday to Alberto Gonzalez.

Photo 2009 © Cheryl Nichols. All Rights Reserved.