Nats squander Hernandez’s outing, blanked again by Diamondbacks

The Nationals wasted a strong performance by Livan Hernandez on Saturday night and were blanked 2-0 by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Once again, a lack of offense was to blame, as the Nats were shut out for the ninth time this season, and for the second consecutive night.

Hernandez (3-7) worked seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He walked four and fanned three.

Unfortunately, Arizona lefty Joe Saunders was just a little better. He allowed only two hits - a leadoff single in the first and a leadoff double in the third, both by Jerry Hairston Jr. - in seven innings. Saunders (3-5) walked two and fanned five.

After Jayson Werth drew a third-inning walk to put runners at the corners with none out, Arizona pitchers retired the next 16 Washington hitters in order until Laynce Nix’s pinch-hit single off David Hernandez with two down in the eighth. Werth followed with a walk, but Michael Morse struck out swinging to end the threat, his third whiff with runners in scoring position on the evening.

In the ninth, Rick Ankiel hit a two-out double to center off J.J. Putz before pinch hitter Roger Bernadina flied out to left to end it. Putz notched his 17th save.

The four-game series at Chase Field concludes Sunday at 4 p.m. Eastern, when Washington’s Jason Marquis opposes Arizona’s Ian Kennedy. A win Sunday gets the Nationals a split in the series, the first leg in an 11-game, three-city road trip.