Offense Stalls With Lopez In a Slump

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 10, 2007

MINNEAPOLIS, June 10 -- The centerpiece of the Washington Nationals' inability to score more than three runs in Sunday's 6-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins was second baseman Felipe Lopez, who went 0 for 5 with an RBI that came on a bases-loaded groundout. Lopez is now in a 2-for-37 tailspin that has left his average at a season-low .231.

"I'm just struggling," Lopez said. He said he did not know what was wrong. "When you're struggling, you're struggling. . . . I try to do the same stuff. It's all about my timing."

Lopez has gone hitless in seven of his past eight games; his two hits during this funk that began with his last two at-bats May 30 came in the same game, June 5 against Pittsburgh. His on-base percentage is now .277, 63 points lower than the National League average for leadoff hitters.

"It seems like he's trying to get out of the slump and get three hits in one at-bat," Manager Manny Acta said. "So we're just going to talk to him. He's just going to continue to go out there. That's how he's going to get out of it. Hopefully, he'll snap out of it."

Junior Iron Man

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman didn't start in the field for the first time all year, instead serving as the designated hitter. He went 0 for 5 and his average dropped to .243, but Acta endorsed Zimmerman's hope to play in all 162 games.

"Why not?" Acta said. "[Cal] Ripken did it."

Last year, six major leaguers played in 162 games -- Jeff Francoeur, Juan Pierre, Grady Sizemore, Mark Teixeira, Miguel Tejada and Michael Young.

"People ask you, 'How many games did you play?' " Zimmerman said. "To say, '162,' is pretty cool."

Rotation Changes

The Nationals tweaked their rotation for the Toronto series next weekend to avoid having left-handers Mike Bacsik, Micah Bowie and Matt Chico pitching in a row. While everyone else will be pushed back a day because there is no game Monday, Bacsik will make his start on his regular four days' rest Friday night. That moves Levale Speigner, who gave up two hits in six innings Saturday night, back to next Saturday in Toronto, the second straight time he'll have a week between starts.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company