Johnson sticking with Clippard as co-closer

Tyler Clippard's rough stretch continued tonight.

Clippard, who was lights out for much of the season, blew his fifth save of the year tonight and earned his third loss in his last seven appearances after allowing three Brewers runs in the ninth inning.

It stuck the Nationals with a 4-2 loss, wasting a fantastic outing by Edwin Jackson, who threw eight innings of one-run ball.

"Well, that one hurt," manager Davey Johnson said. "Jackson pitched a great ballgame. I was tempted to let him go out in the ninth, but I said he pitched a great ballgame, Clippard's fresh, let's go there."

Yes, let's go there.

Clippard's ERA over his last eight appearances is now 11.05. He's allowed 15 hits in his last 7 1/3 innings. And during this stretch, Drew Storen has been heating up, looking more and more dominant seemingly with every outing.

Johnson said earlier today that he was planning on making Storen and Clippard his co-closers. Is he still sticking with that after tonight's loss?

"Yeah," Johnson said. "Just one time out. That was a tough club in a one-run ballgame with all that speed.

"He'll be fine. That one just got away. One battle. He's been pretty awfully good."

The trouble started for Clippard right off the bat in the ninth when he allowed a bunt single to Norichika Aoki leading off the inning. Aoki moved to second on a passed ball by Jesus Flores, went to third on a sac fly to center off the bat of Rickie Weeks, and then scored the game-tying run on Ryan Bruan's RBI single.

Things only got worse from there. Braun stole second and came in to score on Aramis Ramirez's double to left. A wild pitch moved Ramirez to third, and then he came in on a Travis Ishikawa single to shortstop which was originally ruled an error but later reversed and called a hit.

That made it 4-2, and Johnson came out to get Clippard before the top of the ninth had even come to a close.

"The play of the ninth inning was Aoki's bunt," Johnson said. "We were playing in, he made a perfect bunt and then a couple passed balls didn't help. But the bunt was the key because the guy can run, he's going to be on second base. That was the whole inning, really. That changes (things). Clip's rushing to keep them from stealing another bag, and he didn't make good pitches."

Johnson was asked if he's seen any consistent issues from Clippard during this rough three-week stretch.

"He was throwing hard; he was throwing 94 (mph)," Johnson said. "Again, when you're worried about 'em stealing a bag, you a lot of times don't locate the ball as well and you're rushing and leave the ball down the middle."

Jackson didn't get the win, but he delivered a fantastic start after struggling a bit his last three times out.

"He started the game a little bit up, hung a slider to (Jonathan) Lucroy," Johnson said. "But after that he got back down and he was great. It was a great outing."

Jackson was due up in the bottom of the eighth inning, which Johnson admitted factored into his decision to pull his starter.

"I felt like here we have a chance to add on, I'm going to add on, and Clip's been awfully good," Johnson said. "I don't know how many (saves he's blown), but he's been awfully good."

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