D-Backs Hold on to Beat Nationals 4-3

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By HOWARD FENDRICH
The Associated Press
Thursday, April 5, 2007; 11:45 PM

WASHINGTON -- As yet another Washington Nationals starter struggled, team president Stan Kasten wryly observed, "Just your typical 40-pitch inning."

For the record, Jason Bergmann needed 50 pitches to get through a three-run first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night. Orlando Hudson homered off Bergmann in the third to add to the lead, and Arizona held on for a 4-3 victory over Washington.

"It seems like if we just get rid of that first inning," Washington's Ryan Church said, "we'll be all right."

Indeed, the Nationals have been outscored 8-0 in first innings so far, and they've put themselves in a big hole four times in four games. In their opening three-game series against Florida, the Nationals:

_trailed 3-0 in the second and 6-0 in the fourth inning of Game 1, and lost;

_trailed 5-0 in the second and 6-0 in the sixth inning of Game 2, and lost;

_trailed 5-0 in the third inning of Game 3, but won 7-6.

This time, the Diamondbacks were up 4-0 by the third, and Edgar Gonzalez (1-0) and four relievers made it stand up.

Gonzalez said teammate Livan Hernandez _ the right-hander Washington traded to Arizona last season _ told him to throw more changeups than usual. So Gonzalez did, and that might have contributed to Washington's 0-for-13 day with runners in scoring position.

Bergmann (0-1) departed after allowing four runs in 3 2-3 innings _ which actually lowered the ERA of Washington's starters from 11.37 to 11.02.

"We were just patient with him. That was the key," said Arizona's Eric Byrnes, who led off the game with a single and eventually scored on a bases-loaded walk. "It wasn't that we were hitting the ball off him. We made him throw a lot of pitches, and we were fortunate to get a few runs in the first inning."

Bergmann's problem was control: The right-hander's line had more walks (six) than hits (five), and 42 of his 91 pitches were balls.


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© 2007 The Associated Press

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