On Monday night, it didn't matter that Yunesky Maya put things back together after a disastrous second inning. It didn't matter that Ross Detwiler followed him with two scoreless innings, and it didn't matter that the Nationals played a sharper game than they had on Sunday, when a loss to the Marlins earned them some choice words from manager Jim Riggleman and his coaching staff.
None of it counted for much, because the Nationals' offense, which has been struggling for the last week, was short of answers all night.
The Nationals produced just six hits, striking out two-and-a-half times as often (15) in a 4-0 loss to the Braves. Derek Lowe, one of the few Braves pitchers the Nationals have hit well, threw eight shutout innings, and Billy Wagner struck out the side in the ninth.
It was the Nationals' sixth straight loss, and they've scored just 10 runs in those games.
Maya balked twice in the second inning, bringing in a run, giving up three hits and hitting Jason Heyward with a pitch after that. But he settled down after that, lasting six innings and allowing four runs. He flashed a fastball with more movement and life than he had in his first start, and showed his plus curveball at times.
The way the Nationals' offense is going, though, anything short of a flawless performance from Maya wouldn't have been enough. They've matched their longest losing streak of the season, are sitting a season-low 24 games below .500 and in need of some answers.