"It's something that we're used to, but this seemed like a little more than usual." --Boston shortstop Nick Green, June 23, 2009.

THE RESULT: In their first game in Washington, DC since 1971 -- when Ted Williams was managing the Senators -- the Boston Red Sox took advantage of several fielding errors and mistakes and pounded five relief pitchers for eight runs, defeating the "home team" Washington Nationals 11-3, before a Nationals Park record crowd of 41,517.

The box score shows a big, fat "6" in the column for the eighth inning for the Sox, but more important to the outcome was the single run they pushed across in the seventh.

Starter John Lannan, on a night where he labored but kept his team in the game, struck out J.D. Drew for the third time to lead off the frame. Then, Julian Tavarez entered and Kevin Youkilis hit a routine ground ball to Ryan Zimmerman, who promptly slung a throw into the first at first that Nick Johnson could not scoop, and Youkilis was safe on the error.

That play typified both fielder's erratic defensive play this season.

But the Nats weren't finished yet. The next batter, Jason Bay (4-for-6, HR, 3 RBI), singled through the hole between third and short, and with Adam Dunn lumbering to the ball in left, Youkilis, the hulking first baseman, took off for third.

Inexplicably, and compounding his lack of effort with a lapse in judgment, Dunn threw to third with no chance to get Youkilis, and Bay advanced to second on the ill-conceived throw.

Tavarez (L, 3-5, 3.77) intentionally walked Mike Lowell to set up a force, but Jason Varitek instead lofted a fly ball to medium left field, where Dunn made the catch but also made no effort to even attempt a throw to home to get Youkilis.

Just like that, the Nats surrendered the lead, for the final time of the night.

Sure, the bullpen -- especially Kip Wells and Jesus Colome -- added gasoline to the fire. But the real reason the Nats lost this game had already transpired.

Lannan went six and one-third innings, and allowed three earned runs on nine hits and two walks. He threw 109 pitches, 69 for strikes and, atypically, allowed 10 fly ball outs compared to five grounders.

THE TAKEAWAY: The actions of the late-inning pitchers may carry repercussions for the relievers that authored the unwatchable frame. After the game, manager Manny Acta did not mince words when asked to describe his faltering bullpen once again, "Somebody has to step up out of those three guys," Acta said, referring to Wells, Colome and Hanrahan. "Because I can't pitch the same four guys."

We could very well see the likes of Tyler Clippard, Saul Rivera, Jorge Sosa or even Marco Estrada very soon in a Nationals uniform.

THE GOOD: Ryan Zimmerman. He hit the ball hard, going 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. Nice to see the contact again.

THE BAD: Adam Dunn's defense. His lackadaisical approach and lollipop throws to the infield are atrocious, and he even managed to cut in front of his center fielder last night to make a catch. It's painful to watch.

THE UGLY: Ladies and gentlemen, the Nationals Bullpen is back. Tavarez faced four batters and gave up a run on a hit, walk and sacrifice. Ron Villone surrendered a run on a hit and a walk in one-third of an inning. Kip Wells got one out and walked two batters. Both scored. Jesus Colome managed two outs and didn't walk anyone, but gave up four hits and three earned runs.

Not to be outdone, Joel Hanrahan pitched the ninth inning and gave up a run on two hits.

NEXT GAME: Tonight at 7:05 pm, for game two with Red Sox Nation. Craig Stammen (1-2, 4.76) takes one Jon Lester (5-6, 4.69).

Photos 2009 © Cheryl Nichols. All Rights Reserved.