"There were some balls hit over some guys heads." -Manny Acta, May 29, 2009.

THE RESULT: The Philadelphia Phillies used timely hitting and lousy fielding by Washington to register a 5-4 win over the Nationals before a capacity crowd of 45,202 at Citizen's Bank Park.

The Nats got down 5-1 early, with fly balls bouncing off fielders gloves all over the outfield. Washington bounced back for three in the sixth, but never could find the equalizer.

Ross Detwiler, the Nats starter, was victimized by his defense, and although no errors were awarded, the Washington Nationals had four balls glance off their gloves in the outfield.

And veteran shortstop Cristian Guzman threw a ball in the dirt that led to a run and in one particularly gruesome sequence, had a ball go off his mitt as he tried to get back into position after he and second baseman Anderson Hernandez both broke to cover second on a Philly steal attempt.

There were no fewer that six misplayed balls in the outfield, three by right fielder Adam Dunn, two by left fielder Josh Willingham, and one that went for an RBI triple by third baseman Pedro Feliz off the glove by center fielder Justin Maxwell.

To Willingham's credit, he did make a great diving catch and went two-for-two with a home run and two runs. He was also hit twice by Philly starter J.A. Happ (W, 3-0, 3.00)

Detwiler's final line was not pretty: four innings, five earned runs, 10 hits, one walk and two strikeouts. His ERA jumped from 2.40 to 4.80.

THE TAKEAWAY: It's not the manager's fault the outfielders can't catch the ball. It's not the manager's fault the shortstop fell asleep twice on defense. Both of Guzman's miscues were mental errors--not physical.

Acta has taken a lot of abuse on some blogs and chat rooms lately for his lack of "fire", his calmness while the team continues to lose. Thomas Boswell jumped on the wagon today, asking if Acta is "Too Calm to Manage?"

I certainly understand a passionate fan base that is mad as hell that the team stinks. And I can understand that they want the leader of that team to show that he's mad, too.

But the bottom line is this: Jim Bowden constructed the lousiest fielding team in the major leagues, and completely ignored the bullpen this past off-season.

It would be ok to have Dunn in left field if the team had a legitimate center fielder, a rightfielder that can throw and a shortstop with range.

But with Elijah Dukes' injury and Lastings Milledge's inability, the Nats are now left to make Dunn flounder around in right field, with Willingham, short of average himself, playing in left because--for some inexplicable reason--he's incapable of playing in right. And Austin Kearns, bless his heart, has forgotten how to hit again after getting hit in the hand three weeks ago.

As for Guzman, it is well documented on this blog just how below-average he is defensively. He gets to fewer balls at short than any other regular shortstop in the league. People get all fawning over his pretty batting average (which, by the way, has plummeted sixty points in three weeks after going seven for his last 43), but tonight, he made two mental errors on plays that should have been outs.

He actually ranged to his left to get to a ball, but then lazily lofted a throw to first that short-hopped Nick Johnson. How the official scorer called it a single was beyond me.

But the fiasco on the stolen base was below rookie-ball level.

With a right handed hitter up, Raul Ibanez started moving to second on a hit-and-run. Both Guzman and Anderson Hernandez broke to cover the bag. The batter, Jayson Werth, then rolled a routine ground ball to short, where Guzman SHOULD HAVE BEEN to make the play.

Embarrassingly bad defense. Ugly to watch.

THE GOOD: The bullpen. Much maligned, five pitchers pitched four innings of shutout ball to hold the Phillies in place.

THE BAD: Justin Maxwell. 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and the misplayed ball in center. Oh, and he argued with home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstadt after the first K, prompting Wendelstadt to expand the strike zone against the rest of the Nats all night long.

THE UGLY: Um, if you're still reading, you've seen the ugly.

NEXT GAME: Saturday at 7:05. Shairon Martis (5-0, 4.86) against Cole Hamels (2-2, 4.68).

NOTES: Jesus Flores, who was supposed to be activated for today's game, was held back and will be re-evaluated by Dr. James Andrews in the next day or two. He had an MRI and will be examined by the Grim Reaper for pitchers. Hold your breath.