THE RESULT:  Before the 2:40 rain delay last night, this looked like just another loss for the Washington Nationals.  The starting pitching left lots to be desired.  The reliever provided no relief.  Hitters continued to slump.  Fielding was sloppy.  The Nats trailed the Cincinnati Reds by seven runs after five innings.

Then the rains came, and seemed to wash some of that away. 

An offensive explosion -- a six run sixth inning -- brought the Nats back to within one run.  Unfortunately it wasn't enough, as Adam Dunn was called out on strikes for the last out of the game on a pitch he thought was inside, dashing the Nats hopes of pulling off the upset and sealing the 8-7 loss to the Reds.

Attendance was listed at 22,876, but it appeared less than 2,000 remained to see Dunn get punched out, then watch Nats Manager Jim Riggleman exchange some very heated words with home plate umpire Marty Foster.

The six runs outburst equaled the team's total runs scored in the four previous games.

Starter Luis Atilano (L, 6-7), summoned before the game from Triple-A, was pushed around again.  He gave up five earned runs on five hits and three walks in just four innings, and his ERA for the season sits at 5.15 after the outing.  He only threw 41 of his 72 pitches for strikes.

You knew things would be bad for Atilano when he walked the first two batters of the game, then surrendered a three-run home run to All-Star first baseman Joey Votto.  Later, Atilano gave up an RBI-single to pitcher Mike Leake (W, 7-1, 3.45).

What turned out to be the winning runs came on a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman.  He made a tremendous diving stop to his right to rob catcher Corky Miller of extra bases, then slung a sidearm throw to first.  The ball came in low and seemed to confuse Adam Dunn, who failed in his attempt to block the throw.

Zimmerman tried to atone for the error with a two-run opposite field homer (17) to start the comeback.  Pinch-hitter Michael Morse later hit a three-run triple and Ian Desmond doubled to score Morse from third.  Desmond went to third on a throwing error, but died there as Dunn flied out to end the inning.

THE GOOD:  Michael Morse.  All the guy does is produce when called upon.  He's hitting .324/.375/.554 in just 74 at bats this season with four homers and 12 RBIs.

THE BAD:  Atilano.  I think this experiment is just about over.  Doug Slaten also gave up three runs in his inning of work. 

THE UGLY:  Ivan Rodriguez went 0-for-4, and since peaking on April 22 at .449, over his last 52 games he's hitting .235/.260/.306.

THE STATS:   The Nats went 3-for-5 with runners in scoring positionand left five men on base total.  They struck out six times and walked four times.

NEXT GAME:  Today at 7:05 pm against the Cincinnati Reds.  Stephen Strasburg (4-2, 2.03) faces Bronson Arroyo (10-4, 3.96).

NATS NOTES:  Before the game, Manager Jim Riggleman told reporters that Ian Desmond will see the bulk of his at bats from the two-spot the rest of the season.  He told's Bill Ladson:  "I just know we have struggled to score runs during the four games after the All-Star break.  I just decided to move the lineup a little bit, get some guys in some different spots and see if we could create a little offense.

The Nats have also made something of a splash in the international market.  Though it's still unofficial, several reports have said the Nats will sign Cuban defector Yuniesky Maya, a 28-year old right-handed pitcher.  Maya was the Cuban National team's No. 1 starter and compiled a 48-29 record and 2.51 ERA in six Cuban National Series seasons.

Maya participated in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics as well.