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Bergmann Has Numbers, But Not Wins

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By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 10, 2007

MILWAUKEE, May 9 -- Dontrelle Willis, the talented lefty for the Florida Marlins, has an ERA of 5.44, but five victories. Philadelphia's Adam Eaton has three wins despite his 7.43 ERA, worst among National League starters. Jason Bergmann? The Washington Nationals right-hander has out-pitched them both, and his six-inning, one-run outing Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers dropped his ERA to 3.07. Yet after getting a no-decision in Wednesday's 3-1 loss, Bergmann is still 0-3.

"I'm not really overly concerned with wins," Bergmann said. "I'm trying to focus more on quality starts and keeping the team in the game. That way it can go either way. It's better than being down 6-0 in the third inning. I hope that never happens."

With Bergmann recently, it hasn't happened. Since starting his year with an abysmal 3 2/3 -inning performance in which he walked six, Bergmann has turned his season -- and perhaps his career -- around. He allowed just two hits Wednesday, and opposing hitters are now batting just .177 against him.

"I'm very proud of our starters," Manager Manny Acta said. "Despite what we're going through right now, they're giving us a chance almost on an everyday basis. These are kids, not too many people were expecting things out of them."

Bergmann's one mistake hurt him Wednesday. He had Geoff Jenkins behind in the count 0-2. Catcher Brian Schneider called for a slider down and in. Bergmann shook him off, preferring a fastball well off the plate outside, trying to get Jenkins to chase. But Bergmann didn't execute the pitch, throwing it right down the middle, and Jenkins hit a solo homer.

"I would take that one back," Bergmann said.

Going Against the Book

In the Brewers' decisive eighth-inning rally, Acta used three pitchers -- right-hander Saul Rivera to retire J.J. Hardy, then turning to lefty Micah Bowie to face Prince Fielder, then right-hander Jesus Colome to pitch to Bill Hall. When Fielder and Hall each singled to put runners on first and third with one out in a 1-1 game, the book would seem to indicate that Acta would turn to lefty Ray King to face the left-handed hitting Jenkins.

Yet Acta said he left in Colome because he knew Jenkins's career record against King -- 4 for 7 with a double and two walks in nine plate appearances. Jenkins delivered anyway, a grounder that found a hole on the right side to drive home Fielder with the winning run. . . .

Veteran infielder Ronnie Belliard played first base for the first time in his career Wednesday, pinch-hitting in the seventh and appearing in the field in the bottom of the inning. He made a nice stretch and caught a bounced-in throw from Felipe Lopez to retire Damian Miller.

"I didn't catch the ball," Belliard said. "The ball caught me."


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