The Atlanta Braves haven't lost a game that Kris Medlen started since May of 2010 and by the time the diminutive right-hander had completed seven scoreless innings on the mound against the Nationals on Wednesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., the 26-year-old starter had a streak of 21.0 scoreless innings going. Philadelphia Phillies' right-hander Kyle Kendrick had a 21.0 scoreless inning streak snapped by Tyler Moore's two-run HR late in Friday night's game. The Nats have beaten Roy Halladay once since 2005, and twice as a franchise if you count the Montreal Expos beating the then-Toronto Blue Jays' ace. Throw in the loss of Michael Morse and (late in the series finale against the Braves) Ian Desmond and you've got the makings of a three-game losing streak. "Offense is struggling a little bit," Davey Johnson said after last night's loss, "I guess I tip my hat to the pitchers."
The Nationals have dropped three-straight games seven times now in 2012, only twice has a losing streak gone to four, and just once has it stretched to five games during the Nats' season-long losing streak from April 26-May 5th when they dropped the finale of a three-game set to the San Diego Padres, three-straight to the LA Dodgers and the series opener with the Arizona D-Backs. Asked last night how the team could avoid having the lull or losing streak become something bigger, Davey Johnson first dismissed the idea it was a lull and instead pointed to the recent injuries and opposing pitching as the main reason for the current three-game slide. "We got a little beat up with Desi down and Morse down and the offense is just kind of... I give credit to the opposition pitching, they've pitched good here. It's not chopped liver over there. They're very talented, but two runs doesn't usually win it, so, we'll get them tomorrow."
"Losing a couple guys out the lineup that were swinging the bat pretty good," the manager continued, "And then facing good pitching... the difference between winning and losing is always very small." The Nats' skipper concluded last night's post game interview by suggesting that the two injured players, Morse (HBP on hand) and Desmond (knee/hamstring) weren't likely to return to the lineup until at least Tuesday in Miami.
For the Phillies' part, last night's starter Roy Halladay, who beat the Nationals/Expos for the 13th time in 17 career starts, told the Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Gelb that his team had a message to send to the NL East's first place Nats in this series. "I don't think any of us are just going to roll over and give them games," the 35-year-old, two-time Cy Young Award-winning right-hander said, "We want to make a little bit of a statement. We still want to play. We still want to compete. We're just not going to give anything away."
It doesn't get any easier for the Nationals this afternoon, as they face 33-year-old left-hander Cliff Lee and turn to Jordan Zimmermann to help them avoid getting swept on the road in Citizens Bank Park. One of Lee's two wins (yes he's 2-7) this season came against the Nats when the 11-year veteran held the Nationals scoreless for 7.0 innings last time out in the nation's capital to earn that win in an 8-0 shutout back on July 31st. No one said this was going to be easy.