Game 1 of 2 Top 5:
5. A Year Ago Today: A year ago today (actually a year and a day it was April 18th), Jason Marquis failed to make it out of the first inning of a home start against the same Milwaukee Brewers he faced this afternoon. Marquis threw 28 pitches, 13 strikes and allowed 4 hits, a walk and seven runs, all earned, that day, before he was lifted from his third start as a Washington National without having recorded an out. The start would be Marquis' last until after he'd had surgery to remove "loose bodies" from his right elbow. This afternoon in Nats Park, Marquis needs just sixteen pitches to get through the first, but he does surrender a run on three hits to put the Nationals down 1-0 after a half. Marquis needs just eight pitches to get through a scoreless second...
4. 0 for 28 And Counting...
4. 0 for 28 And Counting: Ian Desmond's now 0 for 28 in Nationals Park this season after striking out swinging against Brewers' right-hander Yovani Gallardo in his first at bat. The Nats' 25-year-old shortstop is hitless at home, but he's not the only one struggling. After two innings today, the starting lineup features six player with sub-.200 averages (Ankiel, Werth, Morse, Desmond, Pudge and Alex Cora), one player hovering just above the Mendoza Line, Adam LaRoche at .209, and, Danny Espinosa , who's .248 AVG after flying out in his first at bat, is the highest in the lineup in the first of two with the Brewers...outside of the pitcher that is...Marquis rakes!
3. Gallardo Hit .254 Last Year: After two scoreless frames, Jason Marquis gives up back-to-back singles to start the fourth, and after Brewers' backstop Jonathan Lucroy flies to right, the Brewers get two more singles in succession with Carlos Gomez loading the bases with a grounder up the middle and Yovani Gallardo driving in a run with a line drive to right. 2-0 Brewers in the fourth. The Nationals threaten in the bottom of the frame with Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche hitting back-to-back line drive singles. Werth goes first to third on LaRoche's line drive, and scores on a sac fly to right by Michael Morse. 2-1 Brewers after four.
2. SPINNER STRIKES!!: After Pudge Rodriguez grounds out to start the Nats' fifth, Alex Cora and Jason Marquis get something started with back-to-back one-out singles in front of Danny Espinosa. Yovani Gallardo throws three-straight balls, two strikes and Danny Espinosa launches the full-count offering to right field and out! Espinosa's second HR of the season lands in the Nats' bullpen, over 335ft from home and the three-run blast gives the Nationals a 4-2 lead in the fifth.
1. 1 for 30!!!: Michael Morse hits a one-out single to the left-center gap off Yovani Gallardo to bring Ian Desmond and his 0 for 29 streak/slump to the plate. Desmond gets hold of a 1-2 change from Gallardo and drives it to left-center and over the bullpen wall on one-hop for a ground-rule double and an end to his hitless streak at home this season. 1 for 30. Gallardo gets behind Pudge Rodriguez, 2-0 and gives up a long fly ball to right that just clears the out-of-town scoreboard. Pudge's 1st HR of 2011 is a three-run blast that gives the Nats a 7-2 lead and chases Gallardo from the game.
0. MOAR MARQUIS!: Jason Marquis is at 92 pitches when he comes back out to pitch the top of the eighth. The 31-year-old right-hander allowed 9 hits, 2 runs, both earned, while recording 4 K's inducing 12 groundouts through 7.0 IP. In the eighth, Marquis walks the leadoff batter Ryan Braun, and the Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman calls on Doug Slaten to face Prince Fielder, Lefty vs Lefty. The Brewers' first baseman hits a grounder to third, Cora to Desmond to LaRoche, 5-6-3 DP to erase the leadoff walk. Slaten gives up back-to-back two-out singles, but Chad Gaudin strikes Jonathan Lucroy out to end the top of the eighth. Still 7-2 Nats.
-1. What Slump?: After collecting his first hit in 30 at bats in Nats Park, Desmond is now 2 for 2 post slump as he takes a 1-1 pitch from Brandon Kintzler to left and just over the wall for a solo shot that makes it 8-2 Nats. Chad Gaudin gives up a leadoff walk, single and one-out walk to load the bases before he's lifted. Tyler Clippard pops up Ryan Braun, but Danny Espinosa can't get to it. A run scores, but the Nats get a force at second. Two down. 8-3 Nats. 8-4 on an RBI single to right by Prince Fielder. Clippard gets ahead of Casey McGehee and gets him looking to end the first game of the doubleheader. Nats win 8-4.
• Jim Riggleman on Ian Desmond: "He's just a really mentally tough young man. He's going to leave it all out there for you. He doesn't get down on himself. He's just a good player. If he goes up there 500-600 times, when you look up at the end of the year, it's going to be a lot of our other guys, it's going to be a good year because he's that talented."
Nationals now 7-7.
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• Game 2 of 2 Top 5:
5. Let's Play Two!" - Ernie Banks: Approximately thirty minutes after the Washington Nationals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-4 in the first game of the tradition doubleheader in Nats Park, right-hander Livan Hernandez takes the mound in D.C. in the sharp home whites and retires the Brew Crew in order in the first inning of the finale of the weekend series in the nation's capital with just seven pitches. Rick Ankiel gets the Nats' offense started with a one-out double in the first off former Nats' pitcher Marco Estrada and one out later he moves to third on a passed ball. Estrada walks Adam LaRoche to bring Wilson Ramos up, but he K's swinging, 0-0 after one. A 9-pitch second gets Livan through two scoreless.
4. Hairston?: Jerry Hairston takes a 3-1 pitch from Estrada deep to left field and out of the yard! Nats take a 1-0 lead over Milwaukee and Livan Hernandez heads back out to the mound, retiring the first two batters before surrendering the first hit of the night to the opposing pitcher, who singles to left-center to break up the early no-hit bid. It takes Livan 14 pitches to get through the third, but he's got three scoreless in the books and he's got the 1-0 lead courtesy of Hairston's first HR in a Nationals uniform.
3. Don't Make Fielder Angry!: The Brewers get to Livan Hernandez in the top of the fourth. Prince Fielder seems to resent the 67 mph bender Livan drops on him for strike two, and he doubles to deep center on a 1-2 fastball. A strong throw in from Ankiel is only a few steps behind the Brewers' big first baseman. Back-to-back singles by Casey McGehee and Yuniesky Betancourt follow with Betancourt's scoring Fielder from third to tie it at 1-1 after four.
2. Balk Then Not-Balk: Still tied at 1-1 after six, and Livan Hernandez sets the Brewers down in order. Laynce Nix, starting in right with Werth sitting out the second game, singles to right through the shift. A balk by Milwaukee right-hander Kameron Loe is reversed by the second base ump, drawing Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman out of the dugout for a prolonged argument. Ian Desmond drops a line drive single into center in the next at bat, and Jerry Hairston's single over short loads the bases. Matt Stairs grounds to second and a strong throw home from Rickie Weeks for the force at the plate keeps it tied for two pitches before Danny Espinosa hits a base-clearing triple to left to put the Nats up 4-1 after seven.
• Jim Riggleman on Espinosa leading off: "He's definitely comfortable there. It's not just a matter of comfort, it's a matter of, 'Is that...the best place for him and is he the best player for us to have there and at this point it certainly looks like he is. But, he's a good hitter period. So, there's a lot of ways to take advantage of Danny. When he's swinging well he can help you in a lot of places, but right now we need him to help us at the top."
Espinosa ends the day 2 for 7 with a HR, triple and 6 RBI's.
1. SWEEEEEE---- Adam LaRoche takes a 2-2 pitch from Zack Braddock deeeeeeep to right and ten rows back over the out-of-town scoreboard and GONE!! LaRoche's second HR of 2011 makes it 5-1 Nationals in the eighth. Drew Storen throws two scoreless innings in relief and the Nats take both games of the doubleheader and take three-straight for the Milwaukee Brewers for the SWEEEEEEEP!!! Nats win, 5-1 final.
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Nationals now 8-7.