Washington Nationals beat Florida Marlins after Adam Dunn is hit by pitch to bring home final run

By Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 9, 2010

Let the record show Matt Chico's return engagement to the major leagues was a hit.

While it certainly wasn't the storybook yarn the Washington Nationals and their fan base had hoped he might spin, the left-hander was efficient enough in his first start in nearly two years to get through five full innings before departing with the lead.

"Well, it was pretty obvious he did a great job," Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman said. "Today he was really good."

That Washington beat Florida, 5-4, on a sun-drenched Saturday afternoon was more or less a footnote to Chico's story, although there was intrigue in how the Nationals (16-14) did it. The difference was Adam Dunn getting hit on the right arm by a pitch from Renyel Pinto with the bases loaded in the eighth inning.

That brought home Ian Desmond, who also reached on a hit-by-pitch, with the go-ahead run. Closer Matt Capps made it stand with his 12th save, the most in the majors, in as many chances. He got all three outs in the ninth, drawing a rousing ovation from what remained of the announced crowd of 21,633 at Nationals Park.

At the start of the game, it was Chico who was greeted with cheers and applause after a lengthy interruption from baseball's highest level.

In 2008, Chico's left arm--and thus his major league career--was in disrepair. The culprit was what Chico called a "snap" after delivering a fastball in mid-April of that season that left numb the first two fingers on his throwing hand.

Yet Chico, being young and obstinate when it came to keeping his big league dream on track, refused to yield to the discomfort and continued to dig in on the pitching rubber. The thinking was perhaps his competitive instincts would be enough to carry him through whatever ailment had infiltrated his once-lively throwing arm.

Bad idea. Really bad.

Chico made a handful of doomed starts and relief appearances following the elbow injury, which indications suggested was a torn ligament.

All told, Chico's lost 2008 season included 63 hits, 17 walks and 10 home runs allowed in 48 innings. That's nearly 12 hits per nine innings and a WHIP of almost 1.7. He had an 0-6 record in 11 appearances, and his ERA was 6.19.

Before Chico could inflict further damage to himself or the Nationals, the team ordered an MRI exam, which revealed what had been suspected for weeks. Chico in fact had a completely torn ligament.

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