"Tonight I felt like we allowed the game situation , the long innings and stuff -- just our body language on the field -- it allowed us to just have an aura hanging over us that 'it's just not happening for us tonight.'" -- Manager Jim Riggleman, on his team's effort.

THE RESULT:  At about 5:15 pm Monday afternoon, Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo sat on the top of the bench in the Nats dugout surrounded by two dozen media members and delivered some bad news.  Hours later, the team went out and played as if the air had been let out of their tires.

On the day the Nats announced they would place their prized rookie on the disabled list for the second time this season, they were beaten soundly by a different first-year pitcher and his Chicago Cubs teammates, 9-1, before a mixed crowd of 17,921 at Nationals Park.

Livan Hernandez had arguably been the Nats best pitcher this season, but on this night he had none of the command he's exhibited previously.  He walked four and hit two batters in his 4 1/3 innings.  He gave up seven earned runs on 10 hits and though he struck out five.  He simply was not effective.

Manager Jim Riggleman paraded five relievers through the game, but the damage had already been done.

On the other side, Cubs rookie Casey Coleman, making his second start of the season, owned the Nats. 

He gave up just three hits and two walks over his 6 1/3 innings, striking out three.  Not surprisingly, the Nats went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, the third time in four games they have failed to get a hit with a runner at second base or better.

The Nats didn't get their lone run until the seventh inning, when the outcome was no longer in doubt.

But the game result was not the worst news of the day.  Far from it.

Rizzo told reporters before the game that Stephen Strasburg would be placed on the 15-day D.L. sometime before his scheduled Thursday start with what he termed as a flexor strain in Strasburg's right forearm.

He said the result of the MRI performed by team doctors Sunday afternoon showed enough that they wanted to perform another MRI on Tuesday, this time with a contrasting dye, to get a better look at what the trouble might be. 

The results of the second MRI should be available 24 hours after the test is performed, so hopefully all of NatsTown will know the prognosis -- for better or worse -- by Wednesday.

This marks the second time this season Strasburg has visited the disabled list this season.  He missed two weeks earlier this summer with stiffness in his shoulder after having trouble warming up for a game.

THE GOOD:  Roger Bernadina went 1-for-3 with a double that set up the Nats lone run, and made a magnificent diving catch in left field.  That's that type of hustle the team wants to see, especially from young players, as the Nats play out the string.

THE BAD:  Livo.  It was a stinker.  And instead of Riggleman saying so, he blamed the home plate umpire. 
"Livo's got to get a little edge there now and then on the plate, and Tim [Timmons, home plate umpire], I'm sure he was getting the calls right, but when the pitches are close and you're not getting them, that's tough for Livo.  He kept making good pitches, he made a lot of great pitches, and we just couldn't get those calls."
I suppose the two batters he hit were on good pitches the ump missed as well.

THE UGLY:  This team is in a serious funk offensively, as they managed just one hit through six innings against a rookie making just his second major league start.  Riggleman addressed his team's effort in the post-game presser:  "I talked to the ballclub after the game.  I let them know that we just gotta play with more energy.  We gotta find a way, we gotta turn it up a notch."

THE STATS:  6 Ks, 2 BBs, 0-for-4 with RISP, 4 LOB, 1 DP.

NEXT GAME:  Tuesday at 7:05 against the Cubs.  John Lannan (5-5) takes on Carlos Zambrano (4-7)

NATS NOTES:  The win was the first for Cubs interim manager Mike Quade, who took over when Lou Piniella abruptly retired after Sunday's 13-3 loss.  Piniella's 90-year old mother is in failing health, and he stepped up his retirement that he announced for the end of the season to care for her.

Several MLB sources said that RHP Jordan Zimmermann will take Strasburg's start on Thursday night, and though both Rizzo and Riggleman acknowledged he was a candidate, both stopped short of announcing him the starter.