“Days like we had last night, it’s pretty important that as a starter the next day, you can go as deep as you can to save the bullpen,” Jackson said. “Those guys worked hard last night and they battled a lot. It was just one of those things where you want to come out today and you definitely want to go deep in the game.”
He was able to do that, delivering seven innings and allowing just one run and tying a season high with nine strikeouts.
“He was outstanding,” manager Davey Johnson said.
It just wasn’t enough.
The Nationals got little going offensively against Braves starter Ben Sheets, who was making just his second start in nearly two years. The righty underwent Tommy John surgery in August of 2010, but he battled his way back to the majors and shut the Nats out over six innings, matching the six scoreless frames he tossed for Atlanta last Sunday.
“His velocity isn’t what it used to be, but he’s made up for it with location, mixing pitches up,” Adam LaRoche said. “Keeps the ball down. We just couldn’t get to him.”
Said Johnson: “I thought guys were getting pretty good at-bats on him. We get our cleanup hitter up there with one out and he gets a count in his favor (and grounds into a double play). That’s the momentum shift right there. At least do a sac fly or something. We had a couple home run hitters coming behind him. It’s the little things like that. That’s baseball.”
It might be easy to try and make a connection between the crushing loss that happened last night and getting shut out this afternoon. But the Nats insist that nothing about the blown nine-run lead last night factored into today’s outcome, outside of possibly being a bit tired physically, something the Braves also had to battle.
“It’s easy to say why we lost,” Jackson said. “Had we gone out and won, nobody would have made any big deal about us being tired or anything else. But you’re definitely not going to hear any excuses from anyone in the clubhouse. It’s just a game that we lost. We battled and we fought and we never did give in. We just came up short.”
Here’s the Nats lineup for the 7 p.m. game, in which they’ll face Atlanta righty Randall Delgado:
LF Steve Lombardozzi
CF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Sandy Leon
P John Lannan