CINCINNATI, Oh. --- It would have been very easy for the Nats to give up in this one. Fresh off a long two and a half hour rain delay, Washington allowed three more runs and suddenly found themselves down 8-1 to the Reds in the fifth inning.
Cincinnati ended up winning 8-7 but not without a battle to the end.
A six run comeback in the sixth inning showed what this team is capable of and their never-say-die attitude. It all came from extra base hits the Nats had not been able to produce in the last week: A two run homer by Ryan Zimmerman. A three-run triple by Michael Morse. An RBI double for Ian Desmond.
Morse says the triple was big for the team. “It got the momentum back on our side. Games like this you never know what can happen. You have a long rain delay. We came out and we never (gave up). We fought to the end.”
“We have been fighting since day one. Sometimes it doesn’t show on the scoreboard but we don’t give up. There is no one on this team that gives up. We think we are in every game when we are out there.”
Manager Jim Riggleman knows how disappointing a loss like this can be. “It is tough. The guys are battling. Losing wears on you. We just showed some character there tonight and battled back. We had some great at bats from Willie and Morse. Zimmerman had a good game for us.”
“I keep telling our ball players that it is going to turn for us. It has got turn for us so they believe what I am telling them.”
Having chipped all the way back to one run, the Nats still had a shot with home run hitter Adam Dunn up in the ninth against Francisco Cordero and two outs. A low strike call ended the chances for Dunn to tie up the contest.
Riggleman argued with home plate umpire Marty Foster after the game on the called third strike against Dunn.
“I don’t know if it is a ball or a strike when I am sitting in the dugout. I know Adam knows the strike zone. He was pretty convinced I could tell from his reaction that it wasn’t a strike.
“I was just going to let the umpire know that my 3-4-5 hitters know the strike zone. I didn’t get the words out of my mouth and he said something that I didn’t like. So we had some typical manager-umpire give and take there.”
Nationals pitcher Luis Atilano got roughed up in his rehab assignment for Syracuse last week, allowing five runs in 2 and 2/3rd innings. He was missing with his pitches up in the zone, allowing a two-run double and an RBI triple to Pawtucket.
Fast forward to Tuesday night in Cincinnati and once again, Atilano struggled early, yielding two walks to start the game and then a three-run blast off the bat of All-Star Joey Votto. Reds led 3-0 after first inning.
The Reds scored two more runs in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Mike Leake and a groundout by Orlando Cabrera. It is the second night in a row the ninth place hitter has notched an RBI base knock off of a Nationals starter.
Atilano lasted just four innings, giving up five runs on five hits with three walks and only one strikeout. He has now lost six of his last seven decisions.
The Nationals now hope the last starter to win a game for them, Stephen Strasburg, can do the same Wednesday night against Bronson Arroyo, to get on the board in this series.