It's Third and Long for Reeling Washington

By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 14, 2008

Jason Bergmann stood by his locker after the 46th start of his career, and indisputably one of his worst. The Washington Nationals pitcher was ready to answer questions and deflect excuses following the Nationals' 12-0 loss to the New York Mets last night.

After 46 starts, Bergmann knows one that includes 10 runs -- six of which were earned -- in just three innings is a game that needs little explanation.

"The only thing to take from today," he said, "is to forget about it."

The Nationals Park crowd voiced its displeasure with the performance, booing after walks accumulated and releasing a cheer riddled with relief once a dreadful, eight-run third inning closed.

One run in the first inning was all the Mets needed to surpass the Nationals. It was Washington's sixth straight loss and the Nationals must win today to avoid suffering consecutive series sweeps.

Bergmann did little to help himself, and his offense provided no support. Last night marked the 18th time the Nationals have been shut out this season and the third time in six games. The eight runs allowed in the third inning matched the total number of runs the Nationals have scored in six games.

After allowing two runs to begin the third, Bergmann walked the Mets' No. 8 and No. 9 hitters, including the pitcher, It was a fate fans were resigned to, given the way Bergmann was pitching.

"I need to throw a strike to get the guy to swing," Bergmann said.

"He just didn't have it," Nationals Manager Manny Acta said. "He couldn't throw anything for a strike, especially inside."

The defense did not help, either. José Reyes ripped a sharp ground ball to Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzmán. Perhaps because Brian Schneider ran past Guzmán and momentarily blocked his view, Guzmán could not field the ball. Two runs scored, no out was recorded and the scoreboard continued changing.

Acta declined to seek relief. With the pitcher's spot due up second in the batting order and a bullpen forced into extended duty during the last week, Acta needed Bergmann to last five innings or 100 pitches.

By the time the inning concluded, he had lasted three innings and 89 pitches with six walks.

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