A much different picture in the series finale (Nats lose 5-2)

A lot went right for the Nationals over the last three days.

They pitched incredibly well, allowing just four runs and 11 hits in that three-game span. They brought the bats, scoring 15 runs after putting up just four through their previous four contests. They played sound defense, for the most part.

All three of those games resulted in wins.

Today, it’s been a different story.

Ross Detwiler has allowed four runs and 10 hits over his first five innings. He had surrendered four earned runs on the season coming into today.

Nine of the 10 hits have been singles. Many have been plays that could’ve been made or dropped just beyond a National’s glove.

The Nationals have managed just one hit off Reds lefty Tony Cingrani, and left the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche both went down on strikes after Jayson Werth had walked to load the bases. LaRoche had words with home plate ump Sam Holbrook after getting called out on strikes.

Cingrani struck out four Nationals in the inning. Denard Span reached on a wild pitch to open the inning after swinging through a Cingrani pitch.

LaRoche is now in an 0-for-24 slump, with 12 strikeouts in that span. He has 27 strikeouts in 72 at-bats, a 37.5 percent strikeout rate.

That’s not good.

Defensively, the Nats have been sloppy. Danny Espinosa made his second error in as many games and failed to get to another ball that he normally reaches.

Normally an above-average defender, Espinosa has had a rough couple days in that department.

It’s 4-0 Reds mid-way through the fifth.

Update: It looked like the Nats had gotten a break in the fifth when Xavier Paul dropped Span’s sinking liner to left. Instead, it just turned into another blunder for the home team.

With two outs, Anthony Rendon was moving from first base on contact. He slowed down as he rounded second base, however, likely assuming Paul had made the catch. He got back into a sprint when he saw the ball hit the turf, and was waved home by third base coach Trent Jewett, but was thrown out by a mile.

The out at the plate ended the fifth inning.

Rendon then made a fielding error in the top of the sixth, his third error in six big league games and the Nats’ second of the game.

It’s been a sloppy afternoon for the Nationals in their final game before a seven-game road trip.

Update II: LaRoche now has struck out in all three at-bats today and his slump continues. It’s now 0-for-25 with 13 strikeouts.

Have to imagine he’ll at least sit against left-handers for the time being, until he snaps out of this ugly skid.

The Nats pushed across a run in the seventh with Cingrani out of the game, with Kurt Suzuki’s double bringing in Desmond to make it a 4-1 game. Another scoring opportunity was wasted, however, when both pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi and Span were retired, leaving two in scoring position.

The Nationals are 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position today.

On a side note, the Nationals drew 36,457 fans to Nats Park today, giving them a total attendance of 509,006 for April. That’s the most they’ve drawn at Nats Park in any month since the part opened.

The 31,813 average attendance here so far this season is also the highest average mark in April since the team relocated to D.C.

Update III: The Nats fell to the Reds 5-2, finishing their seven-game homestand 3-4.

They managed just five hits, allowed 11 and made two errors.

Now it’s off to Atlanta for a rematch with the Braves, who have hit a rough patch after their torrid start to the season.

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