Of the Nationals' 54 losses this year, their 8-7 defeat against the Reds on Tuesday night has to register as one of their most draining. The Nationals packed a low-grade melodrama into the almost 5 1/2 hours it took to finish the game, falling behind 5-1, enduring a 2:40 rain delay, giving up another three runs with some sloppy defense, pulling within one and ultimately losing by a run.
The game ended with Adam Dunn being called out on a pitch that looked low and off the plate, and manager Jim Riggleman in a nose-to-nose exchange with home-plate umpire Marty Foster as the teams filed off the field.
And for the six runs the Nationals scored in an encouraging sixth inning - two on a home run by Ryan Zimmerman and three on a pinch triple from Michael Morse - the margin in the game ended up being the runs they gave up in the fifth, when Ivan Rodriguez had a throw slip out of his hand while trying to throw out Miguel Cairo and Zimmerman was charged with an error after Dunn couldn't pick his low throw.
Their offense looked more like it did at the end of the first half than it has at the beginning of the second half, but their defense and a bad night from pitcher Luis Atilano made the hole a little too deep.
So now the Nationals are 40-54, losers of six of their last seven and four in a row. They'll try to pick things up tomorrow with Stephen Strasburg on the mound. Byron Kerr will have more reaction from the clubhouse in a little while.