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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nats Lose Pitchers Duel 2-1 to Twins

Minneapolis, MN--On a night where neither team could afford a mistake, Washington Nationals starter John Lannan made one, Livan Hernandez of the Minnesota Twins did not, and the Twins reaped the benefits of that mistake, winning 2-1 before 20,920 patrons in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome Tuesday night.

In the bottom of the sixth inning ahead 1-0, Lannan (L, 4-8, 3.36) gave up a single to Joe Mauer (2-for-3, .329) right back through the box that luckily left Lannan unscathed. The next pitch did all the damage though, as Lannan hung a curveball to Twins' clean-up hitter Justin Morneau, and Morneau clubbed the pitch an estimated 421 feet into the upper deck in right field for his eleventh home run of the season, giving the Twins the only runs they would need this evening.

"It was a curveball up and he hit it a long way," Lannan said. "It was just a mistake that wound up costing us."

Lannan was in control most of the way, getting first-pitch strikes against most batters. He pitched seven innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits and two walks, and he struck out three.

Lannan's counterpart, former Nat Livan Hernandez, was his crafty old self last night, after getting pushed around in his last start. He took advantage of the Nats' young hitters, getting them to chase pitches in favorable counts, and generally keeping them off-balance all night. Hernandez (W, 7-4, 5.51) allowed one earned run on five hits. He walked no one, and struck out just one batter. Joe Nathan recorded the save for the Twins, his 18th of the season.

The Nats scored their only marker in the third inning, when Paul LoDuca, fresh off the disabled list, doubled to right field with one out. Kory Casto moved him over to third with a groundout, and Cristian Guzman (1-for-4, RBI) reached on an infield single, allowing LoDuca to score. LoDuca would be the only National to reach second base all night.

Lastings Milledge, Jesus Flores and Felipe Lopez collected the other hits for the Nats, and Casto reached on a walk.

LoDuca was the designated hitter for the game, hitting in the eighth spot in the line-up. Manager Manny Acta has gone on record saying that LoDuca will DH during interleague play, and get some time in at first base and left field, in addition to backing up Jesus Flores, who has seemingly cemented his spot as starting catcher for the Washington Nationals.

Wednesday's game features Jason Bergmann (1-4, 5.48) against Kevin Slowey (3-6, 4.70) in an 8:10 pm EDT match-up.

NATS NOTES: The loss sends Washington's record to 29-43, last in the NL East and 12.5 games behind division-leading Philadelphia.

Lannan remains last in the NL in run support. The Nats score just 2.39 runs per game when Lannan is on the hill. He has not won since May 18, but in five starts since, has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of those starts.

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