When you send out a lineup that features just one hitter above the .250 mark, there's every chance you could get shut out. For the third time this season, that's exactly what happened to the Washington Nationals.
Kyle Lohse dominated the Nats hitters and delivered a complete-game, two-hit shut out in a 5-0 win for his St. Louis Cardinals. The loss drops the Nats to 9-9 for the season.
The Nationals never really had a chance in this one. Jayson Werth and Michael Morse were the only Nats hitters to scratch out singles against the Cards righty. Lohse (3-1, 2.01) walked two and struck out six in the effort. He stranded all four batters to reach, and the Nats only had one at bat with a runner in scoring position.
Starter Tom Gorzelanny kept his team in the game, giving up two earned runs on just two hits over his five innings. A hanging breaking ball to Matt Holliday in the first inning turned into the slugger's second home run of the season. Despite walking four, Gorzelanny (L, 0-2, 4.96) did not give up another run.
The Cardinals got to reliever Collin Balester in the eighth for three more runs, including Albert Pujols sixth home run of the season. Balester was pitching on the second consecutive day for the first time this season, a day after being asked for two innings and 34 pitches from manager Jim Riggleman. Balester was recalled a week ago, but sat until Wednesday to make his 2011 debut.
But the real story was Lohse's command performance, and the Nationals ineffectiveness at the plate, which may be reaching epidemic proportions.
Washington entered the day hitting .226/.312/.347, ranked 28th/22nd/27th in all of Major League Baseball, and those numbers will be worse after today's game. It's fairly shocking that they rank squarely in the middle of the pack in runs scored with such terrible averages.
Looking at their game logs, however, the Nats have scored 42 of their 73 runs in just six games, all wins. In each of those wins, the Nats scored six or more runs.
That leaves just 31 runs for the other 12 games, an average of 2.58 runs per game. Not surprisingly, their record in those 12 games is 3-9.
THE GOOD: Brian Broderick. The Rule 5 pick threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and no walks.
THE BAD: Matt Stairs remains hitless this season, striking out in the eighth inning pinch-hitting for Broderick.
THE UGLY: At the end of the game, Danny Espinosa (.273) was the only National that had more than two at bats for the season with a batting average over .225.
THE STATS: Two hits, two walks. 0-for-1 with RISP, 4 LOB, 1 GIDP. No errors.
NEXT GAME: Friday at 7:05 pm at Pittsburgh Pirates. Livan Hernandez 92-1, 2.88) v. Jeff Karstens (1-0, 4.50)