It was a beautiful day for baseball at Nationals Park today, 65 degrees and sunny, with light spring breezes.  And the starting pitchers lived up to the fantastic conditions, both throwing gems. 

That they went about their jobs in diametrically opposite methods only enhanced the experience for the pitching lovers in attendance.

Unfortunately for the Washington Nationals, Livan Hernandez made two mistakes on the day, serving up home runs to Miguel Olivo and Ian Stewart.  His counterpart, Ubaldo Jimenez, made none, and walked out of Nats Park with a 2-0 win, five days after throwing the first no-hitter of the season.

The get-away day crowd of 15,518 on Earth Day appreciated the performances and the crisp 2:30 playing time.

Hernandez further solidified his status as the Nationals most efficient pitcher of 2010 thus far.  In his previous two starts, covering 16 innings, he had not allowed a run of any kind.  And though he could not keep the Rockies off the board today, he continued his renaissance.

Hernandez (2-1, 0.75) went eight innings, giving up just four hits and two walks, striking out five.

He baffled hitters with an assortment of low-to-mid 80s fastballs and 65 MPH curveballs.   He worked the edges of the plate in most instances, and the Nats defense made all the plays today.

Jimenez, on the other hand, blew Nats batters away with a sinking fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s, mixing in some nasty breaking stuff, that induced 14 ground ball outs, including one sequence where Jimenez got three straight ground balls that he handled himself.

Washington could not muster any type of attack against a pitcher that is slowly emerging as one of the best in the National League.

Jimenez (4-0, 0.95) went seven and one-third innings, allowing just five hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

He didn't get into any trouble in the game until the eighth inning.  Alberto Gonzalez led off with a single, and took second on a wild pitch.  Pinch hitter Josh Willingham grounded out with the runner on second, and that spelled the end of the day for Jimenez.

Rockies Manager Jim Tracy called for the former National, lefty Joe Beimel, to bail out his starter.

Beimel faced Nats' leadoff hitter Nyjer Morgan, and onthe first pitch, with the infield playing way in expecting a bunt, Morgan did just that.

Trying to drag a bunt past the pitcher toward second base, Morgan dropped his bat head and instead popped the bunt up, with the ball softly falling into Beimel's glove for the second out of the inning. 

Cristian Guzman followed with an infield single, the poorly hit ball bouncing slowly up the third base side, but getting the job done, with Gonzalez moving up to third base.  But Willie Harris lofted a soft fly ball to right field on a 2-1 count to end the threat.

Manager Jim Riggleman defended his centerfielder, unprompted, in his post-game press conference.

"I liked what Nyjer tried to do there.  If he gets that bunt over there towards the second baseman where he was trying to get it on the ground, then we could create some problems for them there."

"When you try to bunt sometimes you're gonna pop it up and it went right to Joe [Beimel] there on the mound."

The Nats end up splitting the four-game set with Colorado, a team many expect to contend inthe National League West this season.

Washington opens a three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers Friday at Nats Park.  Luis Atilano (2-0, 1.64 at Triple-A Syrause) makes his major league debut against Charlie Haeger (0-1, 7.20).

NATS NOTES:  Jason Marquis, placed on the 15-day DL with "floating bodies" in his pitching elbow, will miss six weeks and receive a corisone shot, but no surgery is scheduled as of yet.

Marquis will resume throwing in seven to ten days and hope to return to the Nationals within the timeframe laid out by team doctors and specialist Dr Tim Kremcheck, who performed the second opinion.

Ryan Zimmerman did not play, a day after tweaking his right leg on a double inthe seventh inning of Wednesday night's game.  Riggleman indicated Zimmerman would not start Friday either, but would "probably" be available to pinch-hit.

Adam Dunn continued his early season struggles, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, leaving runners on base twice.  He is now hitting .176 for the season.

Brian Bruney pitched a perfect ninth inning with a strikeout.

With the loss, the Nats record falls back to .500 at 8-8.