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There's No Easy Way For Nats

Washington's Ryan Zimmerman realizes his base-running mistake had just ended a scoring threat in the eighth.
Washington's Ryan Zimmerman realizes his base-running mistake had just ended a scoring threat in the eighth. (By Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)

Afterward, Robinson was asked if Schneider -- who battled shoulder problems late last season -- was healthy enough to throw as well as he had in the past. "Ask Schneider," Robinson said.

Schneider, in the midst of a large group of reporters after the game, was asked if he was healthy. "I'm not hurt," he said sharply. Uncharacteristically, he stormed back to the players' lounge, slamming a chair on the way. "How many times do I have to say it?" he shouted.

Schneider's fourth error of the season might not have mattered, because Armas got Valentin to ground the next pitch toward Anderson, filling in for the injured Jose Vidro. Anderson surrounded the ball, waiting to preserve the 1-0 lead. He didn't do it.

"It's a play that should have been made," Anderson said. "The ball wasn't hit that hard. That's pretty much it: It should've been made."

Wright pumped his fist as he crossed home plate, the score tied. Armas retired the next batter, and his day was over -- 98 pitches, two hits, one walk, no earned runs, but no win.

"It's part of the game," he said. "If it happened, it happened."

In the bottom of the inning, Tucker was inserted as a defensive replacement as part of a double-switch, when right-hander Chad Bradford replaced lefty Royce Ring. Bradford, a side-armer, had one task: retire Soriano with the bases loaded. And when Valentin came across the field to take Soriano's grounder up the middle, throwing him out at first base by a step, Bradford exhaled, and Tucker's homer made Bradford the winner.

"It's frustrating," Soriano said, "because I did not do anything to help us win the game."

And then, the final indignity. Zimmerman singled with one out in the eighth, and with Nick Johnson up, the Nationals tried to hit-and-run. Problem: Zimmerman kept running. Johnson's fly ball was caught easily by Beltran.

"By the time I realized it, there was nothing I could do," Zimmerman said. "So I just had to sit there and watch them throw the ball to first. It was a pretty bad feeling, but I made a mistake, and that's it."

The last chance, actually, came when the Nationals managed a hit and walk against Mets closer Billy Wagner in the ninth. It came down to Brandon Harper, a backup catcher in his second major league game. When Harper popped up to a sliding Carlos Delgado in foul ground, Delgado pumped his fist, and the Nationals began the process of trying to forget a game that was, for the wrong reasons, quite memorable.

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