Hill Hurt By Nats' Lack of Support

Shawn Hill, making his first start in the majors since 2004, gives up just one run in seven innings. He'd had ligament replacement surgery.
Shawn Hill, making his first start in the majors since 2004, gives up just one run in seven innings. He'd had ligament replacement surgery. (By Lawrence Jackson -- Associated Press)

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By Les Carpenter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 28, 2006

The last time he had been in a big league stadium, as a Montreal Expo, his heart was thumping. The game came fast at Shawn Hill, so he thought the only solution was to throw faster. Only Hill does not throw fast enough to do this, and his first run at the major leagues two years ago was short-lived.

Yesterday -- an Olympic Games and a rebuilt arm later -- he was back. This time his heart didn't pound. He didn't feel the nerves, but rather an odd tranquility as the Los Angeles Dodgers went down meekly against the Nationals' newest pitcher.

"I almost underthrew a couple of times," he said. "I threw too easy. [Catcher] Brian Schneider had to come to the mound and tell me I was dipping my arm."

At least somebody was paying attention.

On the day the Nationals found another starting pitcher, they lost a game, 3-1, to the Dodgers when the rest of the team seemed to go to sleep.

A seventh-inning rally that tied the score at 1 and threatened to give Hill his second major league victory began to fizzle when Damian Jackson tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt and instead popped up to catcher Russell Martin.

His excuse?

He said it was just one of those days when he "didn't feel 100 percent."

"We can't take days off and stay in the clubhouse, which I should have done," Jackson said.

The rally was further defused when rookie third baseman Ryan Zimmerman took a running start off second base with two on and one out. Pitcher Derek Lowe turned around and caught a scampering Zimmerman crawling back to second.

"You pick up things and you try to use them to your advantage," Manager Frank Robinson said, alluding to a tip in Lowe's motion that gave Zimmerman the order to run.

So many little things added up yesterday.


CONTINUED     1        >

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