by Tyler Radecki, Staff Writer


Leading off the game, Nationals center fielder Roger Bernadina laid down a perfect bunt right in between first base and the pitcher’s mound and reached first base with ease. But as he ran past the bag, home plate umpire Todd Tichneor ruled that Bernadina stepped on home plate to bunt and was out.

Roger Bernadina was called out for stepping on the plate in first inning.
(C.Nichols/Nats News Network)

Close up of Bernadina's foot in 1st inning (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)

Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman argued the call with Tichneor for a couple of minutes before getting ejected from the game. Bench Coach John McLaren took over Manager duties for the day.

Manager Jim Riggleman was tossed after first batter.
(C.Nichols/Nats News Network)

From there, you could sense that it was going to be a frustrating day for the Nats and their offense. Despite getting eight hits and three walks, they couldn’t scratch more than one run across home plate, wasting a great start from Jordan Zimmermann to lose, 2-1.

Jordan Zimmermann (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)

The team’s best chance to blow the game wide open was in the fourth inning. Jayson Werth led off with a double, Wilson Ramos walked, and two batters later Danny Espinosa was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. The next batter, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, flied out in foul territory in right field, bringing Alex Cora to the plate with two outs.

Jayson Werth doubled in fourth. (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)

Cora slapped a sharp ground ball up the middle, but it hit pitcher Chris Tillman and bounced to third, bringing in one run. Had the ball bounced past Tillman, it likely would have scored two runs. Bernadina then stepped in and drove a pitch to right field, but it came up just a few inches short of a grand slam – another close play that just didn’t go Bernadina’s way on Sunday.

Chris Tillman reacting to bad bounce. (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)

Meanwhile, Jordan Zimmermann was pitching a gem on the mound, so the one run may have seemed like enough after six innings. Zimmermann had retired 13 in a row heading into the seventh inning and was locating all of his pitches and had given up just one hit.

Jordan Zimmermann (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)

But in the seventh, Zimmermann gave up a leadoff single to Nick Markakis. Vladimir Guerrero stepped in and ahead in the count 0-2, Zimmermann tried to throw a slider past Guerrero, but it hung in the strike zone, and Guerrero knocked it into the left field seats for his fifth homer of the season. 2-1 Baltimore.

Zimmermann gave up one more hit before being pulled, but his start was still fantastic: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. With 10 days rest, he looked as sharp as he had been in a long time.

Jordan Zimmermann (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)

In the ninth inning, Matt Stairs drew a one-out walk and was pinch ran for by Brian Bixler. With Roger Bernadina batting, Bixler tried to steal second base on a full count, but Bernadina watched a slider land in the zone for strike three and Orioles catcher Matt Wieters gunned down Bixler for Baltimore’s second strikeout-throw out double play of the day. It was a fitting way to end a frustrating day for the Nats, who had a few bad breaks in another poor offensive performance.

Brian Bixler gets gunned down at 2B for last out of game.
(C.Nichols/Nats News Network)

THE GOOD: Zimmermann was fantastic, throwing six innings of one-hit ball before giving up two runs on the home run in the seventh. His ERA is now 3.98 on the year, and he’s looking as good as he’s ever looked in his major league career.

THE BAD: The offense had nine LOB on Sunday afternoon and could never get the big hit needed to break the game open like they had on Friday night.

THE UGLY: The Nats were part of two separate strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out plays, one in the second inning and one to end the game – both were on strikes looking.

GAME NOTES: Michael Morse started at first base on Sunday. Ben Goessling tweeted, "Adam LaRoche will have his shoulder examined in New York tomorrow. He'll join the Nationals in Milwaukee after that."

THE STATS: 1 run, 8 hits, 0 errors, 9 LOB, 1-8 w/ RISP, 7 strikeouts, 3 walks.

NEXT GAME: Monday at 8:10 p.m. ET against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Tom Gorzelanny (2-3, 3.56 ERA) faces Yovani Gallardo (5-2, 4.70 ERA).