Correction to This Article
A June 15 Sports article incorrectly said that the Washington Nationals' losing series against the Colorado Rockies was their first since a two-game sweep by the Florida Marlins on May 3-4. It was the Nats' first home series loss since the Marlins series; the Nationals lost two of three to Philadelphia on May 29-31.

Nationals' Pitching Is Left In Tatters

Nationals pinch runner Ramon Ortiz is tagged out by Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins, ending the fifth inning, after Jose Vidro had singled.
Nationals pinch runner Ramon Ortiz is tagged out by Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins, ending the fifth inning, after Jose Vidro had singled. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)

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By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 15, 2006

Caught in the crossfire of a slugfest, the Washington Nationals turned to relief pitcher Bill Bray to restore a little sanity to what had been a weird game last night at RFK Stadium.

The rookie had been nearly perfect since joining the team on June 2, allowing three hits and no runs in 7 1/3 innings of work. A comparable performance would have come in handy in a game that saw the Nationals jump out to a lead, fall behind and rally to tie it up again.

Instead, things only got weirder.

Bray yielded a momentum-changing homer that helped the Colorado Rockies hand the Nationals their third straight loss, 14-8, in front of an announced crowd of 24,273.

Former National Jamey Carroll continued his torrid homecoming, breaking the deadlock in the sixth by depositing a 94-mph fastball from Bray over the left field wall.

"I definitely missed a few spots," said Bray, who fell to 1-1 after allowing five runs on eight hits in two innings. "They just hit it hard."

Carroll started first, getting a good chunk of a fastball that Bray left over the inner half of the plate. The homer energized the Rockies, who tagged four more runs on Bray before he left at the end of the seventh inning.

By then, the game was essentially over, as Tom Martin and the rest of Colorado's bullpen shut down the Nationals.

"We're falling back in the same rut as we were before," Nationals Manager Frank Robinson said. "That concerns me. We worked so hard to get out of the hole."

The loss gave Washington its first three-game losing streak since dropping four straight from May 10 to 13, and its first series loss since a two-game sweep by the Marlins on May 3-4.

Robinson is concerned about the state of his bullpen heading into today's series finale. Bray pitched two innings last night and will be unavailable. Fellow reliever Jon Rauch may be limited because he pitched two tough innings last night as well. Meantime, Robinson said reliever Gary Majewski is feeling ill and may be limited in what he can do.

"We don't have the bullpen to absorb that many innings," Robinson said.

CONTINUED     1        >

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