Tuesday night, the Washington Nationals took a 6-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning.

It didn't last that way.

Relievers Brian Bruney and Tyler Clippard combined to allow six runs--five earned--on six hits to surrender what seemed like a comfortable lead, and the Nats fell to the New York Mets 8-6 before 31,606 at Citifield in Queens.

There's a lot of hand-wringing in NatsTown this morning after the loss.  Bloggers and fans are calling for the head of Brian Bruney, after he allowed all three batters he faced to reach base without recording an out in the frame.

Bruney has been fairly terrible this season, pitching to a 6.89 ERA with more walks than strikeouts.  And if he'd been hit hard, or walked a couple people, I would be on the bandwagon driving him out of town. 

But last night wasn't that case.

Jason Bay led off with a ground ball that got through the infield.  It happens.  A few feet one way or the other and it's an out.

David Wright, a right-handed batter, was late on a fastball, but he got enough of it to slice a line drive into the right field corner.  A few feet more and it would have been a harmless foul ball.

Rookie Ike Davis, who did narrowly miss a three-run home run on a foul ball, hit a routine ground ball that shortstop Ian Desmond mishandled, then made a poor throw on to allow Davis to reach safely and bring Bay into score.

So, scapegoat Brian Bruney all you want, but last night wasn't really his fault.  He didn't get hit hard.  He didn't walk anyone.  He did what management wants:  he pitched to contact, and a couple balls got through and his shortstop made an error.

These things happen.

Oh, and the score was only 6-3 when he was pulled from the game.

Clippard, on the other hand, was rocked.

He maanged to strike out Jeff Francouer for the first out of the inning, but then in succesion gave up a bomb to Rod Barajas that almost cleared the fence in left field, a bunt single to Alex Cora that he has no one to blame for but himself, a clean single to right field by Angel Pagan and a double to right field by Chris Carter, making his Mets debut.

Clippard has been living in such luck so far this season, it's not surprising that things would catch up to him.  You just wouldn't expect it all in one appearance.

Carter's two-RBI double gave the Mets the lead, and after Miguel Batista intentionally walked Jose Reyes to load the bases to set up a double play, he then unintentionally walked Jason bay to force in the insurance run.

That's something to get mad about.

So my suggestion to NatsTown:  brush this one off.  The Nats have been living right so far this season, with an 8-3 record in one-run games.  They've gotten better-than-expected performances from some unlikely sources, and they are still tied for second in the division.

I fear that the unsustainable early season success has some folks around here printing playoff tickets in their minds, but the Nats are still too seriously flawed to really be competitive this season.  Nats fans need to enjoy the journey to respectability, not expect it all at once.

Losses happen.  It might be tougher to take when it happens in a game the you think they should win.  But if you take a look at the results so far this season, you just might find a game or two where the Nats were able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat themselves.

Back off the ledges, people.

NATS NOTES:  Adam Dunn hit a three-run home run in the top of the first, his seventh of the season.

Cristian Guzman was 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored.

Ivan Rodriguez hit a two-RBI single in the Nats fifth inning.  Desmond drove in the other run with a single in the same inning.

Starter Scott Olsen had another good result on a night he didn't have his best stuff.  He went five and one-third innings, allowing two earned runs on nine hits and one walk.  He struck out two.

Tyler Walker and Doug Slaten combined for one and two-thirds scoreless innings.

Jason Marquis made a rehab start for Class-A Potomac Tuesday night.  He went three and two-third innings, allowing three runs, six hits, one walk and one hit batter, striking out three.  He threw 54 pitches, 36 for strikes, and according to Nats Director of Player Development Doug Harris, Marquis had no health related problems in his appearance.