After the Nationals blew three leads, rallied once to tie the game, got a manager and a coach tossed, blew a lead in the ninth only to save the game in the same inning and managed to survive two innings in which Henry Rodriguez walked four batters, they are still flying home on a six-game losing streak.
Their 5-4 loss to the Reds, the longest game in Nationals history at five hours, 15 minutes, was stocked with opportunities for Washington to avoid a sweep. But Jordan Zimmermann, who lasted just 4 1/3 innings in what's likely to be his final start of the year, walked in a run. Drew Storen blew just his fifth save of the year by giving up a home run in the ninth inning, and the Nationals forced extra innings after Rick Ankiel made an incredible throw, gunning down Dave Sappelt at third from the warning track in right center.
The game eventually ended on Joey Votto's walk-off homer, an opposite field shot off Collin Balester on a fastball low and away. And it's got to go down as one of their most frustrating losses of the season.
Aside from all the blown leads, the Nationals had multiple chances to take the lead in extra innings. Jesus Flores got doubled off second on an Ian Desmond line drive in the 10th, and the Nationals stranded runners on first and second with one out in the 10th. Brian Bixler tripled in the 11th, Michael Morse doubled in the 12th and Chris Marrero singled in the 14th. None of them scored.
It's somewhat appropriate, at the end of a week where the Nationals were utterly incapable of hitting with men in scoring position, that all they got for their trouble was a bitter loss. They were 4-for-20 with runners in scoring position, and left 17 men on base Sunday. So in their last six games, all losses, they're 6-for-64 with men in scoring position.
That's cost them a couple wins this week already, and it led to an excruciating loss on Sunday. Had they been able to hit, they could have rewarded their bullpen for 8 2/3 innings of two-run work (though it took a double play for Rodriguez to survive his wild two innings).
Instead, they'll take a short flight home after a long game that could have ended much sooner - and on a much more positive note - if they'd been able to execute.