Doug Fister told reporters the 2-hour, 9-minute rain delay which pushed the start time of last night's game to 9:20-ish PM had nothing to do with his struggles on the mound in the Nationals' 4-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves in Turner Field.
Washington's 31-year-old sinker-balling right-hander gave up all four runs he allowed in the fourth when Cameron Maybin singled and (after the first stolen base vs Fister in his two seasons in D.C.) scored on a two-run homer by Braves' catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who took a 3-2 cutter that didn't make it inside to right.
Fister fell behind Juan Uribe in the at bat that followed and challenged the Braves' third baseman with a 3-0 fastball that ended up sailing over the center field fence as Atlanta jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
Kelly Johnson singled for the third straight hit and took second on a groundout before scoring when rookie right-hander Matt Wisler connected for an RBI single on his first major league hit after Fister walked Eury Perez to get to the pitcher.
"You can't let that affect you," Fister said of the rain delay, "and tonight it wasn't a big deal."
"Other than that [inning] he pitched pretty well," Nationals' manager Matt Williams told reporters, including the Washington Post's Chelsea Janes.
"He kept us in the game, we were able to extend him through six, which was good. We just didn’t have enough offense to help him out."
After holding the Braves scoreless through seven innings last week in the nation's capital, Fister gave up seven hits, two walks and the four earned runs in his third start since coming off a month on the DL for right forearm tightness.
"Fighting myself a little bit," he said. "Period. Didn't get my job done. Didn't keep our team in the game and that hurts."
"The Pierzynski home run, I'm pretty sure I left it over the plate," Fister said. "He was pretty much sitting on it I think and he got it. Tip my cap to him.
"Uribe's home run, I fell behind 3-0 and trying to fight my way back with a fastball and it was kind of a challenge and he won the challenge, so both those guys, just got to tip my cap and go back to playing baseball."
In three starts since he rejoined the rotation, Fister has put up a 4.42 ERA and a .278/.316/.431 line against in 18 ⅓ IP, but the right-hander said he's starting to get comfortable again.
"I feel like I'm in the right spot," he said. "Things are starting to get back to normal, it's just a matter of fine-tuning and really [getting] back to the game plan. Little misses here and there and that's what I've got to be a little better at."