Nats Ravaged for 19 Hits, 18 Runs

Miguel Cabrera is congratulated after belting a two-homer in the first, which gave the Marlins a 2-0 lead. Florida had 19 hits off six Nats pitchers.
Miguel Cabrera is congratulated after belting a two-homer in the first, which gave the Marlins a 2-0 lead. Florida had 19 hits off six Nats pitchers. (By Joel Richardson -- The Washington Post)
By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 6, 2006

The few who came saw history, albeit of the minor sort, the kind they had no interest in. It wasn't when Mike O'Connor, the Washington Nationals' rookie left-hander, departed in the second inning. It wasn't when Saul Rivera, a rookie right-hander, allowed 10 consecutive Florida Marlins to reach base in the fifth. Nor was it when Mike Stanton, a veteran of nearly 1,100 appearances, gave up three meaningless runs to the Marlins in the seventh.

But add it all up, and you get a version of history, with a side of embarrassment. The Marlins thrashed the Nationals, 18-9, last night, and the milestones read like this:

No team had scored that many runs in RFK Stadium since the Baltimore Orioles did it back in 1965, when they thumped a Washington Senators squad that lost 92 games that season. No crowd at the 45-year-old facility had ever seen this many runs in a game between two teams, and the 27 Nationals and Marlins who scored pummeled the old mark of 22, set twice in games involving the old Senators. It was all witnessed by an announced crowd of 18,441 -- the smallest home crowd to see a Nationals game since baseball returned to Washington last season.

And when it was over, the Marlins had season highs for runs, hits, runs in an inning and hits in an inning, and the Nationals' modest four-game winning streak was over, emphatically.

"It was one of those nights," said O'Connor, who hasn't won in almost a month, a stretch of five starts.

All this would overshadow the day's one bit of optimism, which came from left fielder Alfonso Soriano. Though he understands he is a prime candidate to be traded before the July 31 deadline, he expressed, in an afternoon interview, a desire to stay in Washington.

"I don't want to leave," he said. [See story, Page E5]

Of course, that was before he and his mates went out and played this clunker. Manager Frank Robinson, who normally meets with reporters to discuss the day's events within 10 minutes of the end of the game, remained in his office for more than 45 minutes after this one finished. When he arrived, he came to the conclusion that "it was a bad ballgame, no two ways about it."

Robinson met with General Manager Jim Bowden, and the club announced that it would option right-hander Jason Bergmann back to Class AAA New Orleans, in turn calling up lefty Micah Bowie. The veteran was 2-0 with a 3.83 ERA in 31 appearances for the Zephyrs, and he will be asked to enter a bullpen that used five men to pitch eight innings last night. To make room for Bowie on the 40-man roster, they transferred reliever Felix Rodriguez to the 60-day disabled list.

Dan Uggla and Josh Willingham each went 4 for 6 for Florida, and Uggla scored four runs and drove in four more. Miguel Cabrera, too, managed four RBI, and he and Willingham combined for back-to-back homers off O'Connor in the top of the first to put Florida up 3-0.

But on the mound for the Marlins was a rookie right-hander named Yusmeiro Petit. His response to being handed such an advantage? He allowed hits to the first five Nationals who came to the plate. The tiny crowd had something to cheer about, and O'Connor, after all that, had a 4-3 lead.

"I felt like we had a chance to stay in the game," he said.

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