THE RESULT: The Washington Nationals allowed 10 hits, committed three errors, hit two batters, and lost their home opener to the defending World Champion Philadelphia Phillies 9-8.

Cristian Guzman went five-for-five before leaving in the ninth with a tweaked hamstring and the Nats got three homers, one each from Adam Dunn, Elijah Dukes and Ryan Zimmerman. And they pounded out 12 hits. But Daniel Cabrera couldn't benefit from early support, Saul Rivera hit two straight batters then gave up two home runs, and Anderson Hernandez, usually sure-handed, booted two easy ground balls as the Nats start the season off 0-7.

THE TAKEAWAY: If you were to guess which Nats pitcher were to hit two consecutive batters, you probably would have guessed it was Cabrera, not the normally reliable Saul Rivera. Yet, there it was in the seventh. Rivera plunks Victorino and Utley ahead of Ryan Howard, and Howard did was he does best. He punished a mistake into a three-run home run.

And the calls for Manager Manny Acta's head will continue, as he left Rivera in the game to face Howard instead of bringing in a left-hander reliever. And were I the manager, I probably would have called for Beimel at that point in the seventh. But Rivera's career splits are just as good against lefties, and there was a lot of baseball to play. Sometimes it's up to the player.

But the Nats gave away six runs in this contest, and maybe some of the concentration lapse can be attributed to the home opener, or the passing of Kalas before the game, but the only things that have been consistent so far this young season has been poor defense and worse pitching. And they were both evident again today.

THE GOOD: Power! Dunn, Dukes and Zimmerman all crushed their homers, and Dukes' might have been the most impressive. He hit a slider on the outside corner--one-handed--into the Phillies bullpen.

And Guz lashed singles all over the ballpark and was the player of the game. He's hitting at an unsustainable rate, but let's hope he's not really injured, cause he's fun to watch when he's in a zone like this.

THE BAD: Daniel Cabrera. Four runs--one earned--on six hits and two walks with just two strikeouts in five innings. Cabrera barely hit 90 on the stadium gun today, and that was sparingly. He walked in a run, then allowed 46-year old Jamie Moyer to lift a sac fly deep enough to score another run.

THE UGLY: The defense. This is getting repetitive. Anderson Hernandez booted two easy ground balls, one leading to a run. Adam Dunn had an error and misplayed another ball, both leading to runs. As bad as the pitching is, this team can't give their opponents extra outs, but it's happening every night.

NEXT GAME: Off on Tuesday, the Nats get back at it Wednesday night, with Shairon Martis (0-0, 9.00) hosting Joe Blanton (0-0, 15.75) at 7:05 p.m.

R.I.P. Harry Kalas, longtime Phillies broadcaster and the voice of NFL Films, passed away in the broadcast booth before the start of today's game. There was a moment when the game might have been postponed, but the Phillies insisted the game be played. Kalas was 73. There was also a moment of silence for young Angels' pitcher Nick Adenhart who was killed last Thursday. Adenhart grew up in Maryland.

Also, Mark "The Bird" Fydrich was found dead at his home earlier today working on his truck. Fydrich was best know as a rookie pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, talking to the baseball and manicuring the mound on his hands and knees between pitches.

The game lost two of its more colorful characters today, and the feeling permeated the ballpark. Rest in peace, Harry and The Bird.
Additional photos will be posted tomorrow so check back.

Photo (c) C. Nichols 2009. All rights reserved.