Low run totals becoming a tired act

So apparently, Jayson Werth not playing in yesterday's game was less of a manager's decision and more of a migraine decision.

Manager Davey Johnson told reporters in Los Angeles after yesterday's game that Werth was scratched from the Nationals' series finale against the Dodgers because he was suffering from a "severe migraine," which forced Johnson to insert Tyler Moore into the lineup just hours after the 25-year-old learned he was getting called up to the big leagues for the first time.

That meant that for the day - and boy, does Johnson hope it was just for the one single day - the Nationals were without Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse and Jayson Werth in the middle of their lineup.

That left Danny Espinosa (who is now hitting .205 with one home run, two RBIs and 27 strikeouts in 21 games) batting in the three hole, Adam LaRoche hitting cleanup and Xavier Nady (he of the .130 average with one home run and one RBI) in the No. 5 spot in the lineup.

Not exactly a power-packed middle of the order.

It meant Moore had to start in left field, despite the fact that entering yesterday's game, he'd played just three games in left in his professional career, and that fellow rookie Bryce Harper had to move over to center and make his major league debut at that spot.

The two rookies actually performed admirably, but when you look at the lineups the Nationals are putting out there at this point, it's no wonder they've scored more than three runs in a game just twice in their last 11 contests and averaged just 2.5 runs per game over their six-game road trip.

Manager Davey Johnson's batting order is being held together by string and scotch tape right now, and the Dodgers represented a heavy breeze.

LaRoche and Harper combined to drive in 80 percent (80 percent!) of the Nats' runs against Los Angeles and had six of Washington's 15 hits in the series.

The No. 1 and 2 hitters in the Nats' lineup - Ian Desmond and Steve Lombardozzi - went a collective 2-for-25 in L.A. That just won't get it done. Washington's impressive catching duo of Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores combined to go 1-for-10 against Dodgers pitching. That's not so good, either.

I feel like I'm repeating myself over and over - and over and over - here, but the offense must improve for the Nationals to have a shot against quality teams. Yes, the Nats faced some excellent arms in Dodgerland, but you won't hear anyone in their clubhouse making that excuse for the poor offensive results.

The Nats can get by against the Houstons and San Diegos of the league by scoring three runs a game and letting their starting pitching carry them to wins. But that formula won't consistently be effective against teams that, like Washington, have serious playoff aspirations.

For the first time this season, the Nationals are facing some adversity, coming off a frustrating sweep in L.A. and having lost four in a row. They're set to face the Diamondbacks and Phillies at home this week - two playoff teams from a year ago who are both scuffling to get above .500 early this season.

Let's see how the Nats respond.

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