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Tough choices, unfortunate outcomes for Washington Nationals in Sunday's loss

The Washington Nationals had a chance to pull within a .5 game of first in the NL East in the series finale of their three-game set with the Colorado Rockies, but they dropped two of three this weekend and four of seven on their homestand.

Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

Things started to go wrong for the Washington Nationals in the sixth inning of Sunday afternoon's series finale with the Colorado Rockies. Max Scherzer and the Nationals led 3-2, but Carlos Gonzalez homered to right to start the top of the inning, sending his third home run of the series and second of the game off the facade of the second deck to make it 3-3. Rockies' first baseman Ben Paulsen followed with a double to center one out later.

Scherzer struck catcher Michael McKenry out in the next at bat, bringing Daniel Descalso to the plate.

The Nationals were faced with a decision: Pitch to Descalso, a .220 hitter on the season, who was 1 for 2 with a home run against Scherzer on Sunday, or walk him to get to rookie outfielder Kyle Parker, who was 0 for 2 with two Ks.

"We're going to go with the matchup. We're going to figure out -- Max is facing a guy that doesn't have a whole lot of at bats, [Descalso's] got a home run already off him..." -Matt Williams on decision-making in the sixth on Sunday

"We're going to go with the matchup. We're going to figure out -- Max is facing a guy that doesn't have a whole lot of at bats, [Descalso's] got a home run already off him, seeing him pretty good. So we're going to take the matchup."

Parker, who'd K'd swinging on seven pitches total in the previous two at bats and struggled to catch up to Scherzer's fastball, got hold of a first-pitch slider and lined it to left for an RBI single that put the Rockies ahead, 4-3.

Jayson Werth walked and scored in the bottom of the inning, however, tying things back up at 4-4 and it stayed that way until the top of the eighth.

Paulsen singled to right field and McKenry, who squared to bunt trying to move the runner over, took a fastball inside off the hand.

Williams later pointed to that hit-by-pitch as a turning point in what ended up a 6-4 loss.

"I think certainly you can look to the bunt attempt and the hit batsmen," he said. "That sets that inning in motion."

Daniel Descalso bunted both runners over and Parker grounded back to the mound and into an out on a rundown that left runners on second and third.

Storen chased Paulsen down rather than just running him back to third where McKenry was standing and in the process of chasing Paulsen, Parker took second base.

"It would have been first and third," if Storen just ran Paulsen back, Williams said. "And it ends up being two. He's got the ability to just run him all the way back there, but he gave the ball up."

DJ LeMahieu followed with a two-run single to left that put the Rockies up for good.

Williams was asked about Storen's struggles in the last two outings (5 H, 6 ER), which followed a string of 13 ⅓ scoreless innings.

"Paulsen, he threw a breaking ball down and in and he was able to get a single and then of course the bunt attempt and he made a nice a pitch with the guy on second and third and one out, but the next guy got a base hit, that happens," Williams said.

The Nationals dropped two of three to the Rockies and finished their seven-game homestand 3-4 before heading out on a ten-game, eleven-day road trip that starts at 10:00 PM tonight in Los Angeles.