On what had been a promising road trip for the Nationals, marked with 15 homers and improved defense, they ended both series with games bad enough to kill quite a few of the good feelings they'd cooked up. An 8-4 loss to the Diamondbacks last Thursday cost the Nationals a chance at winning their first road series since May 12. The opportunity to win a road series came again on Sunday, with Jason Marquis on the mound against the Dodgers. And once again, the Nationals looked flat.
They were effectively out of the game after the first inning; Marquis didn't retire any of the first four batters he faced, hurting his own cause by failing to field a bunt. Wil Nieves made another error, and allowed three baserunners to steal on him in the first inning alone. And whatever chance the Nationals had for a comeback was wiped out by a bullpen that allowed three runs, with Drew Storen giving up two of them.
It added up to an 8-3 loss at Dodger Stadium, the Nationals' second straight loss to Los Angeles after winning the series opener. They finished the road trip 3-4, and ended it with an effort only paralleled by their last game in Arizona.
Nieves, in particular, didn't help things. With Ryan Theriot stealing second base in the first inning, Nieves' throw skittered into center field, allowing Scott Podsednik to score the game's first run. He threw out just one of five baserunners, and called a game heavy on breaking balls, which particularly got Storen into trouble in the eighth inning.
The Nationals return home on Tuesday night against the Marlins after an off-day tomorrow. They'll have Stephen Strasburg back on the mound, and they'll return to Nationals Park, where they're 29-23 this season. On the road now, they're 20-40. The reasons why they've been so bad on the road this year were all there on Sunday.