Dedicated to the constructive criticism of the Washington Nationals.


E-mail us at:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Nats Win Game One Behind Milledge, Bergmann

Denver -- The Washington Nationals had to get to work a little earlier Thursday than usual due to the rainout of Wednesday night's game against Colorado. But when you're playing good ball and on a semi-roll like the Nats are right now, you want to get back on the field as quickly as you can anyway. In game one of the afternoon double-header, the Nats rode strong starting pitching by Jason Bergmann and two home runs by CF Lastings Milledge to defeat the reeling Colorado Rockies 6-3 at Denver's Coors Field. Washington has now won five of their last six games.

Bergmann and Rockies starter Jeff Francis -- making his first start since being returned to the roster from the 15-day disabled list -- matched each other pitch-for-pitch for four innings, each being economical with hits and walks, perhaps due to the early start time after the long rain delay the previous evening. But the Nats finally got to Francis in the fifth -- in a big way. Lastings Milledge drilled a fastball over 400 feet for a home run to get the party started for the visiting Nationals. 1B Ronnie Belliard (2-for-4) followed with a double to the right field wall, and LF Willie Harris doubled him in. 2B Emilio Bonifacio (2-for-5) then smacked his third triple in a week to score Harris, and the Nats took a 3-0 lead.

Washington would continue to pound Francis (L, 3-8, 5.81) in the sixth. Ryan Zimmerman (2-for-5) led off with a bunt single, but was erased at second as RF Austin Kearns grounded into a fielder's choice. But with Kearns at first, Milledge came up and blasted his second home run of the game to deep left field, and raised the Nats lead to 5-0. The Nats scored a security run in the top of the seventh against Rockies reliever Jason Grilli. Cristian Guzman, starting for the first time in eleven days, walked and Grilli allowed Kearns to reach on a throwing error, putting men on the corners for Milledge. The center fielder delivered once again, drilling a pitch into center field, scoring Guzman to make the count 6-0. Milledge finished 3-for-4 with two home runs (10, 11) and four RBIs. It was his second career two-homer day, his first with the Nationals.

Jason Bergmann, meanwhile, was on cruise control by that point, putting up nothing but zeroes on the scoreboard. By the time Matt Holliday reached him in the eighth inning with a solo shot (22) to center, this game was well in hand. Rookie Steven Shell tried to make things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, allowing C Yorvit Torrealba's fifth home run of the season, a two-run blast. But closer Joel Hanrahan came on to retire the side, earn his second save, and put this one in the books for DC. Bergmann finished seven innings, allowing one earned run on seven hits and two walks, striking out seven. The victory raises his season record to 2-8, 4.13.

Game two starts at 6:35 pm eastern, with Odalis Perez (4-8, 4.16) facing Ubaldo Jiminez (8-9, 3.61) for Colorado.

NATS NOTES: The win makes Washington 43-71, 19 games out of the NL East lead.

Before the game, OF Elijah Dukes was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained calf muscle. A report indicated that the MRI exam of Elijah Dukes' bothersome right calf revealed a strain far more significant than the team first believed, and as a result, Dukes, the team's starting left fielder, will miss four to six weeks.

RHP Garrett Mock was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to take Dukes' spot on the roster. This is Mock's fourth stint with the big league club this year.

Photo (c) C. Nichols 2008.

No comments: