PITTSBURGH - Ross Detwiler didn't get smacked all over PNC Park tonight. He allowed three runs and six hits over five innings.
Far from a terrible outing, but not good enough for a win. Part of that falls on Detwiler, part of it falls on the Nationals' offense, which managed very little off A.J. Burnett, Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli in the Nats' 3-1 loss.
"I mean, a loss is a loss, no matter what it is," Detwiler said. "I think (my) last three were losses. It's kind of tough to take there. You want to right the ship."
Detwiler wasn't as crisp tonight as he had been earlier in the season. He fell behind in the count a bit more and was pitching up in the zone with his fastball more frequently, allowing the Pirates to get the barrel to the ball.
He also worked just five-plus innings, and was pulled by manager Davey Johnson after walking Russell Martin leading off the sixth despite having thrown just 84 pitches to that point.
"Not good," Detwiler said of his outing. "Only five innings. To come out with the other team having the lead, that's not what I'm trying to do. ... The only time I got hurt was when I was behind in the count. A 2-1 pitch and a 2-0 pitch (on home runs served up to Andrew McCutchen and Jordy Mercer). I just can't fall behind like that if I'm going to throw a lot of fastballs.
"Just two pitches. It was kind of weird, they were the same exact pitch. I tried to throw a fastball away, I cut it a little bit, it goes right over the middle of the plate and they're paid to hit them."
Adam LaRoche went 2-for-3 with two opposite-field singles and a walk tonight, but he was one of the few Nationals to do much offensively. He also added one of the 14 strikeouts that the Nats piled up.
Was that total more a result of a poor offensive approach or great Pirates pitching?
"Probably both," LaRoche said. "I think we all got some pitches to hit, and deeper in counts, they spotted up some pitches. Seemed like there was quite a few strikeouts looking. A lot of times those are just nasty pitches that come back over the plate. We faced some strikeout pitchers, too, that punch out a bunch of guys."
Coming into tonight, Ryan Zimmerman was 0-for-6 with two strikeouts in his career against Burnett. After tonight's game, Zimmerman is 0-for-9 with five strikeouts against the Pirates right-hander.
"I never do well off Burnett, but he threw well," Zimmerman said. "He was getting ahead with his fastball, getting it over whenever he wanted to and obviously the curveball."
This was the first time Zimmerman had seen major league arms in over two weeks after a hamstring strain sent him to the DL, but he wasn't about to blame his four-strikeout performance on rust.
"No. I just didn't play well," Zimmerman said.
The struggles continue, but again, the Nats say their confidence remains.
"We know we can score runs, and we know we will," Zimmerman said. "It's just part of it. Nobody wants it to happen. Nobody wants to not score runs. But it happens. We just have to keep working and keep showing up every day and going to work and making some adjustments and just keep moving forward."