Watch enough Major League baseball games and you'll eventually see something you've never seen before. Like a 15-year veteran pitcher, with 627 plate appearances entering the game, hitting the first home run of his career.
Not only did Derek Lowe of the Atlanta Braves hit his first career round-tripper, a line drive over the left field wall on a 3-2 pitch, but he threw six strong innings, allowing just a solo home run and two other harmless singles, beating the Washington Nationals 3-1, before 20,687 at Turner Field in Atlanta.
Lowe simply dominated the Nats hitters last night. He struck out six and walked just two, giving up Michael Morse's 24th home run to start the seventh inning. Only once, int he third inning, did the Nats have two men on base, as Jesus Flores walked to lead off and Ian Desmond collected his second single of the night with one out. But Jayson Werth looked at an 86-MPH cut fastball for strike three and Ryan Zimmerman grounded to third to end the inning.
Things got even tougher for the Nats after they chased Lowe, as Eric O'Flaherty, Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel all threw perfect innings in relief. Kimbrel earned his 41st save of the season, setting the rookie mark for saves in a year.
For once, the Nats didn't have to worry about their season-long struggles with runners in scoring position because they didn't really have the opportunity. Werth and Zimmerman's outs in the third were the only such occasions.
It was another tough-luck loss for John Lannan (8-11, 3.54), who gave up that home run to Lowe and an earlier one to Chipper Jones, someone that is much more practiced in the art. But overall, Lannan limited the Braves to three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits and one walk in seven innings, striking out six in the process. Henry Rodriguez was perfect in his inning of work as well, but without an offensive explosion like the one the Nats got Tuesday night, there wasn't much more the pitchers could do.
THE GOOD: Ian Desmond. He went 2-for-4 from the leadoff spot and is 16-for-43 (.372) with three walks over his last ten games.
THE BAD: Jayson Werth was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts hitting in the second spot in the order.
THE UGLY: The five though eight spots in the order went 0-for-11 with three strikeouts.
THE STATS: Three hits, two walks, nine strikeouts. 0-for-2 w/RISP, three LOB, zero GIDP. E: Lannan (1).
NEXT GAME: Thursday at 7:10 pm against the Braves. Chien-Ming Wang (2-2, 3.82) faces Tim Hudson (13-8, 3.10)