NATIONALS NOTEBOOK

Redding's Bat Makes Decisive Statement

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 6, 2008

CINCINNATI, July 5 -- Washington Nationals starter Tim Redding now has nine no-decisions in a row. And Saturday, he used not just six innings on the mound, but also one swing to leave the Nationals with a tie game after six innings. Redding's RBI, courtesy of a second-inning single, equaled the runs produced by his teammates in the past two games.

Redding called it "luck," and said of his strategy, "I'm a pitcher, I don't have an approach."

A season of formidable pitching, unsupported by runs, has lent Washington's starters an air of sympathy, and often their losses are spoken about as happenings unconnected to their own performances. Friday, after Jason Bergmann lost a 3-0 game, somebody mentioned to him that he couldn't really do anything about the outcome -- but Bergmann interrupted.

"Well," he said, "I did go 0 for 2."

Poor-swinging pitchers are so prevalent that their batting inabilities come often without blame. That said, one fractional reason for Washington's offensive struggles this season is explained by the last spot of the lineup. Bergmann and John Lannan rank among Washington's most reliable pitchers, but they're also the most reliable outs. Bergmann (0 for 21 this year) never learned to hit in the minors, where he spent several years as a reliever. Lannan jumped to the majors in 2007 -- a year after he started in Class A Potomac -- and his batting fundamentals have yet to adjust.

But at least Nationals pitchers Redding and Odalis Pérez aren't guaranteed outs.

Redding showed why in the second, the one inning in which Washington didn't fail to convert with a runner in scoring position. Austin Kearns and Aaron Boone started things off with a walk and a hit. But Jesús Flores popped up. Willie Harris flew out. Redding needed only to wave his bat a few times to end a demoralizing inning.

Instead, he swatted a 1-2 pitch on the outside corner to left-center field, where it dropped for a single. Kearns scored.

"In the National League, the one guy you're supposed to be able to get out, guaranteed, 99.9 percent of the time" is the pitcher, Redding said. "All of a sudden if he's giving you a battle, hopefully it's a little more frustrating."


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