Rare Early Lead For DC...
Lastings Milledge lifts a sinking fastball out to the bullpen in left center for a solo blast to leadoff the second off of Dodgers' righty Derek Lowe for a 1-0 Nationals' lead, and in the bottom of the third, Cristian Guzzzzman, hits a two-out RBI single to score Emilio Bonifacio from third, after Bonifacio had singled to start the inning and moved around the bases on a sac bunt and a groundout before crossing to give DC a 2-0 lead.
Unfamiliar Scenario Allows Manny Acta To Manage...
DC's rookie right-hander Collin Balester improved to (W, 3-6) on the season, which seemed improbable when he left the game with men on first and third and no outs in the sixth...
...After pitching four scoreless thanks to double plays turned by Zimmerman, Bonifacio and Belliard in the second and third, LA finally got to Balester in the top of the fifth when he hit the first two batters and walked the Dodgers' pitcher, Derek Lowe, to load the bases...Matt Kemp rips a ground ball to third, Zimmerman fields, steps on third in stride and throws home, but DC catcher Jesus Flores touches home and loses the ball trying for the triple play at first, forgetting that the play at home was made a force by Zimmerman tagging the bag, so the first batter Balester had hit to start the inning, Nomar Garciaparra, sneaks home to cut the Nationals' lead in half. 2-1 DC after five.
Balester started the sixth by giving up back to back hits to Manny Ramirez, who doubled, and James Loney, who singled Ramirez over to third, before DC Manager Manny Acta decided to pull Balester and let the bullpen try to hold on to a win for the rookie. Acta turns first to right-hander Marco Estrada, who gets a ground ball to third from Russell Martin, but it ends up bases loaded when Zimmerman's throw to second pulls Bonifacio off the bag. Bases loaded, 0 outs. Garciaparra lines to... ZIMMERMAN! Who makes the catch and steps on third to double-up Manny, double play! After issuing Casey Blake the intentionals to force Torre's hand, Estrada strikes out the pitcher, Derek Lowe, who the Dodgers decide to leave in the game. 2-1 DC after six.
Steven Shell strikes out two of the three batters he faces in a scoreless inning of relief in the seventh. Saul "Sa-ool" Rivera comes on in the eighth gives up a leadoff single to Manny Ramirez, (who ends the day 3 for 4 batting .314), but Rivera gets what he wants from Russell Martin, who grounds to...You guessed it!
...Zimmerman to Bonifacio to Belliard! Double play to end the eighth.
Making It Interesting!
"Wild" Joel Hanrahan comes on in the ninth, in one of the truly rare occasions when the Nationals get to work right through their bullpen, holding a lead from the third on, but Hanrahan decideds to continue a DC Closer tradition of, "Making It Interesting." After a routine grounder from Garciaparra for the first out, Hanrahan gives up a single over the mound and into center to Casey Blake, and walks pinch hitter Mark Sweeney to bring up Matt Kemp with two pinch runners on...Kemp flies out...Andre Ethier grounds out, Hanrahan makes it interesting, but closes out his fifth save of the season. Nationals win. 2-1 final.
For The Completists, Full Game Report After The Jump...
New Nationals now 9-15.
Nationals now 47-85. (Countdown To 100 Losses Stays At...15.)
Matt Kemp takes the first pitch from Collin Balester to center where Lastings Milledge catches the first out of the evening. Andre Ethier flies to DC right fielder Ryan Langerhans. Ryan ZImmerman catches a lightning-quick grounder and throws out Jeff Kent to end the top of the first...Willie Harris takes one on the fists and grounds out to second. Cristian Guzman grounds out. Ryan Zimmerman takes strike three low on the outside corner and drops his bat in disgust.
Collin Balester drops a nasty low breaker on Manny Ramirez to get ahead in the count, and then pops the Dodgers’ slugger up with a high fastball. James Loney walks in front of LA catcher Russell Martin. Martin rips a grounder through short to put two on for Nomar Garciaparra. Nomar grounds to Zimmerman to Emilio Bonifacio to Ronnie Belliard at first, double play...Lastings Milledge takes a sinking 89 mph fastball out to left center and...GONE! 1-0 Nationals. Lowe hits the outside edge with a two-strike fastball to Belliard. Jesus Flores pops out behind second. Ryan Langerhans ground right to Kent at second to send it to the third...
Casey Blake starts the top of the inning with a fly ball to right where Langerhans makes the grab. Collin Balester fields a weak grounder from Lowe, but sails a soft toss to first that hits Belliard’s glove and falls to the ground. Ryan Zimmerman fields a grounder from Matt Kemp while heading towards third, spins to throw to second, and Bonifacio fires a strike to first, double play to end the Dodgers’ third....Emilio Bonifacio reaches down and lines a single to center. Balester bunts Bonifacio over. Willie Harris hustles trying to beat out a grounder to second, but he’s called out by a half-step. The Guzzzz takes a slider outside and slaps it through short for a two-out RBI single. 2-0 Nationals after three.
Andre Ethier grounds out to Belliard at first. Ryan Langerhans traps a fly ball to right from Jeff Kent when his dive comes up short. Balester pops Loney up on an 0-2 heater upstairs. A full-count fastball in on Russell Martin’s fists gets a groundout to short to end the LA fourth...Lastings Milledge takes a leadoff walk from Derek Lowe. Ronnie Belliard beats out the backend of his own DP grounder. Jesus Flores lifts a 1-0 pitch out to Kemp in center. Ryan Langerhans grounds out to Kent. 2-0 after four.
Nomar Garciaparra takes one off the sleeve and is awarded first in the top of the fifth. Casey Blake takes the second straight beanball. Derek Lowe’s trying to bunt, but Balester walks him instead. Kemp grounds to Zimmerman, who tags third and throws home to Flores, who forgets to tag Garciaparra, thinking it’s a force. One run scores, 2-1 DC with one down. Ethier flies out to center. Balester flashes a smile after brushing back Kent, and eventually gets a groundout to third to end the Dodgers’ fifth...Bonifacio grounds back to the mound. Balester K’s swinging. Harris hits the second grounder to Lowe, who fields and throws to end the fiftth.
Manny Ramirez destroys a fastball from Balester for a leadoff double in the LA sixth. James Loney follows with a line drive that drops in front of Milledge. Ramirez takes third. DC Manager Manny Acta comes out, and Balester’s done. Ryan Zimmerman charges in to field a grounder from Russell Martin, and his throw to second pulls Bonifacio off the bag, bases loaded. Garciaparra lines to ZIMMERMAN! Who makes the catch and steps on third to double-up Manny, double play! Estrada walks Casey Blake to bring up Derek Lowe. Estrada strikes out Lowe to preserve the lead. 2-1 DC middle of the sixth...Cristian Guzman starts the DC sixth with a single through short. Zimmerman swings through a two-strike fastball low and outside. Milledge flies out to Kemp in center. Belliard grounds into a force at second, ending the sixth.
Steven Shell starts the seventh for DC. Matt Kemp swings through a two-strike fastball. Andre Ethier stares strike three all the way into Jesus Flores’ glove as Shell paints the outside corner with a fastball. Jeff Kent’s robbed by Lastings Milledge who comes in and dives to take away a single. 2-1 DC after six and a half...Stand Up and Stretch...Derek Lowe comes back out and retires the Nationals in order to end the seventh.
Saul “Sa-ool” Rivera’s on to pitch the eighth. Manny Ramirez punches a single to right. Saul Rivera breaks a 1-2 pitch inside on James Loney for a swinging K. Russell Martin grounds to Zimmerman to Bonifacio to Belliard, DOUBLE PLAY to end the Dodgers’ eighth...Aaron Boone grounds out to short in a pinch hit appearance. Cristian Guzman sneaks a two-out single through second. Ryan Zimmerman pushes an outside pitch to right for a line drive single. Lastings Milledge flies out to center to end the eighth, and bring on...Wait for it...
“Wild” Joel Hanrahan’s on to close it. Hanrahan goes to a full count with Nomar Garciaparra, and gets a groundout to third for the first out. Casey Blake goes back up the middle with a single. Mark Sweeney up, Pablo Ozuna on to run for Blake. Pinch hitter Mark Sweeney takes ball four. Matt Kemp up, Juan Pierre runs for Sweeney. Hanrahan goes to a full count with Kemp, and pops him up to center. Andre Ethier grounds to Belliard, toss to Hanrahan!! Balester gets his third win!! Hanrahan Saves It! This Is What It Looks Like When The Nationals WIN!!!
New Nationals now 9-15.
Nationals now 47-85. (Countdown To 100 Losses Stays At...15.)