The Washington Nationals got good starting and relief pitching and some terrific defense, but as has been the case all season, could not muster anything resembling an offensive attack and fell to the Colorado Rockies -- losers of five straight games before hitting Nats Park -- 2-1, before 29,441 disappointed fans.
The Nationals, losers of three consecutive games, fall to 45-46 for the season with one game remaining before the All-Star break.
Last night, Jason Marquis was the starter that did not get any support. Marquis was battered for six earned runs in 1 1/3 innings in his previous effort against Pittsburgh, but bounced back and went six innings against the Rockies, allowing two earned runs on five hits -- though he walked four. Ross Detwiler came on to provide two scoreless innings of middle relief and Todd Coffey pitched a perfect ninth inning. But unfortunately the proficiency on the mound was not enough to carry the Nats to victory.
With the Nats paltry offense, the two runs the Rockies got off Marquis was all they needed.
Washington managed just five hits and one walk against Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez (W, 4-8, 4.14). They didn't get their first hit until the the sixth inning, when center fielder Ryan Spilborghs misplayed a sinking liner from Ian Desmond into a triple with no outs. Desmond scored on Rick Ankiel's ground out, and that was the sum of the Nats offensive production for the evening.
The Nats couldn't get two runners on base in any single inning until the eighth, when two infield singles caused some trouble. But pinch-hitter Matt Stairs was called out on strikes and Danny Espinosa flied out to end the threat.
In the ninth, Ryan Zimmerman led off with a single to short off Rockies closer Huston Street, and one out later Michael Morse hit a clean liner to center to put runners on the corners. But Jayson Werth failed to deliver once again, rolling over on a slider and grounding into a 6-4-3 double play that was as predictable as Teddy losing the President's Race.
It's hard to be upset with the Nationals right now. They played over their heads for three weeks and got the fan base excited about coming to the park. For the first time since 2005 really, there's an aura of expectation in the stands, for better or worse. The expectations may be founded on a hot streak, but the Nats record is better than almost anyone could have expected at the start of the season.
But Thursday's devastating loss, losing an 8-0 lead on the way to a 10-9 defeat, has started a snowball effect of a different kind. The last two nights, this is a team that's looked like they're really looking forward to having three days off. And right now, they can really use it.
THE GOOD: Michael Morse and Ian Desmond had two hits apiece. Detwiler and Coffey provided three shutout innings of relief.
THE BAD: Jayson Werth was 0-for-3 with a walk. He stranded three runners and hit into the game-ending double-play. He's painful to watch right now.
THE UGLY: Matt Stairs. Struck out looking in his lone pinch-hit at bat. Hitting .143 for the season.
THE STATS: Seven hits, one walk, nine strikeouts. 0-for-4 with RISP, five LOB, two GIDP. No errors.
NEXT GAME: Sunday at 1:35 against the Rockies. Jordan Zimmermann (5-7, 2.82) goes for the Nats. The Rockies have not announced a starter as of this post.