Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen has pitched in a game once since Aug. 28. It showed today as he had trouble controlling his fastball, as he allowed three runs in the top of the ninth inning of a tied game, leading to a 7-4 loss the the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first game of s double-header at Nats Park.
The loss drops the Nats record to 65-76.
Storen hit one batter, came close to taking forner Nat Jamey Carroll's head off with another wild offering, walked Carroll on four pitches, allowed two stolen bases, and gave up three hits, including a two-run double by pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn, Jr. to break a four-all tie in the final frame. He threw 25 pitches, only 11 of which were strikes.
The offense should shoulder some of the blame in this one as well. They jumped all over Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley in the third with a single, three doubles and a two-run home run by Jayson Werth, driving the normally reliable starter from the contest. But the Nats hitters could not take advantage of the Dodgers bullpen, as only three batters reached the rest of the game, all via base on balls.
Dodgers relievers pitched 6 2/3 innings of shut-out, hitless relief, striking out six.
Nationals starter Chien-Ming Wang had another rough first inning, giving up two runs on a double by Juan Rivera, but was the victim of poor defense in the third, as an easily caught line drive by Rivera sailed over left fielder Michael Morse's head for another two-run double. Morse originally broke in on the ball for what have been the first out of the inning, but misread the liner and turned it into two RBIs for Rivera.
Wang settled in after that and retired 11 of his last 12 batters, eventually lifted after 80 pitches over six innings for a pinch-hitter. He walked none and struck out three in another decent performance for the Taiwan native trying to resurrect his Major League career.
In the second half of the twin-bill, Ross Detwiler (2-5, 3.83) will try to rebound from his last performance, an ugly affair where he allowed six earned runs in three innings to the New York Mets last Friday. Detwiler will face the much-travelled Dana Eveland (1-0, 1.13), making his second start for the Dodgers.
THE GOOD: It didn't rain. Much anyway. Werth's homer was his 19th of the season and he hit two other balls hard.
THE BAD: The offense. The Nats had a big inning then put away their bats. GM Mike Rizzo needs to find a way to address the lack of consistent attack in the off-season.
THE UGLY: Storen. No other way to put it, it just wasn't his day. Whether he was rusty from the lay-off, having trouble with a wet ball, or just running up against his wall for the season, this was one of his worst performances as a big leaguer.
THE STATS: Five hits, six walks, eight strikeouts. 3-for-8 w/RISP, seven LOB, no GIDP. No errors.
NATS NOTES: Steve Lombardozzi went hitless in five attempts, flying out to center to end the game.
Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson threw out the first pitch. He spoke with reporters in the press box after the ceremony about the experience, upcoming training camp, and the recent tragedies that have affected the international hockey community.