"I would never talk about personnel, because I don't. I've been asked a variation of that question -- from some media outlet -- almost every day since the first week of the season. And if I had a policy to talk about personnel, I'd have to do that story every single day." --Stan Kasten, June 13, 2009.

THE RESULT: The Washington Nationals lost their 44th game of the season in a hauntingly familiar way: lack of timely hitting, lousy fielding, ineffective relief pitching...you name it.

The Tampa Bay Rays scored seven runs in the sixth inning against Jason Bergmann and Jesus Colome. Bergmann faced five batters and all five would score, including home runs by Ben Zobrist and Gabe Gross--not exactly Ruth and Gerhig.

The collapse in the seventh laid waste to another quality start by one of the rookie starters. Jordan Zimmermann went five innings, allowing just one run on four hits and two walks, striking out six in the cause.

For the second game in a row, the Nats got out to a multiple run lead only to see it vanish. Ryan Zimmerman hit his 12th home run in the top of the first, and drove in another with a fielder's choice in the third.

But the Nats could not capitalize further in the inning, as Adam Dunn struck out and Elijah Dukes flied out to end the rally.

THE TAKEAWAY: The game played out as little more than a side note to the big story of the day. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated both had stories citing "major league sources" that manager Manny Acta would be fired in the next few days, perhaps as soon as Sunday.

Nationals president Stan Kasten would not confirm or deny the report, which should not come as any big surprise. Kasten also would not give specific support to his field manager, preferring to use almost the exact words he chose when asked to support then-GM Jim Bowden, just days before Bowden would "resign" during spring training:

"We always support everyone here and always will. But, you know, we're all just together trying to win every day, trying to turn it around. And we're going to continue to try until we figure it out."

Whether the reports are true or not is really immaterial. Whether the Nationals fire Acta tomorrow, Monday, next week or at the end of the season, his time is nigh. The organization has obviously made up their mind that Manny Acta is not the field manager that they feel is the right man to lead this team.

Whether or not someone else can come in here and guide this poorly constructed team to any better record down the stretch is immaterial. And whether or not Acta ever had the right cards to play this hand he was dealt is completely immaterial.

And whether or not you feel that Acta is the man for the job, it's kinda crummy that "major league sources" are leaking information to the national media, essentially firing Acta before he's fired. It's a rough business when things go bad, but this is a particularly onerous way of covering your bases.

Because make no mistake: if there is information leaking out from the Nationals organization about Manny Acta's status, it's coming from Stan Kasten's office. It's his call alone if Acta keeps his job or not.

Back to last night's insignificant loss.

THE GOOD: Jordan Zimmermann. One earned run in five innings on just four hits and two walks. He had six strikeouts in his first start since missing a start with some tightness in his elbow last week. It's a big step for a kid to make a start after missing one with potential injury.

THE BAD: Adam Dunn. 0-for-4 with two Ks and three left on base.

THE UGLY: Jason Bergmann. Just when you thought he's turned the corner, he lays a stinker again. Five batters faces, four hits--including two home runs--and a walk thrown in for good measure.

NEXT GAME: Sunday at 1:38 pm. Ross Detwiler (0-3, 5.06) faces James Shields (5-5, 3.36).