On Ross' short start and Treinen's long relief appearance

CHICAGO - When the night began, the Nationals certainly weren't expecting Joe Ross to last only four innings. And they really weren't expecting Blake Treinen to then throw three innings of relief after that.

Sometimes you've got to adjust on the fly, though, and that's exactly what last night's 10-5 victory over the White Sox required. Ross' uncharacteristic command issues early forced the young starter out of the game early and left the Nationals to ask Treinen to do something out of the ordinary to fill the gap.

Compounding the problem: This was Game 1 of a 16-game stretch for the Nats without a scheduled off-day.

"You hate to get upside-down in the first game of a long stretch," manager Dusty Baker said. "Invariably that's usually kind of what happens: You get a short outing. We tried to stick with Joe as long as we could, but we decided not to send him back out there the next inning because he had 90-something pitches in the fourth. And Blake gave us all we needed because he saved the rest of our bullpen."

Joe-Ross-throwing-gray-sidebar.jpgRoss' four-inning, 91-pitch start included three walks (all in the bottom of the first) and a hit batter, a rare display of wildness for the right-hander, who because of two recent off-days for the club hadn't pitched in a week.

Did the long layoff affect him?

"Maybe," Ross said. "I just felt a little out of rhythm. I was searching. The command wasn't there. I was just trying to do what I could with what I had."

When he needs a long man out of his bullpen, Baker usually summons Yusmeiro Petit or Sammy Solis. But Solis had just thrown three innings Sunday after Tanner Roark's three-inning start. And rather than Petit, Baker turned instead to Treinen, a former starter who has been a long reliever in the past but mostly has pitched in one- or two-inning stints late in games this season.

After two scoreless innings, Treinen's pitch count sat at 42. The easy assumption was that he was done for the night. But Baker and pitching coach Mike Maddux approached the right-hander in the dugout to see how he was feeling and got a surprising answer.

"Mike and I asked Blake: 'How you feeling?' " Baker said. "And he says: 'Hey, I got one more in me.' 'Well, that would be primo for us, so we don't have to go back to our bullpen."

So it was that Treinen returned to the mound for the bottom of the seventh and did not depart until he had completed another scoreless inning, his pitch count now at 66.

It was the 14th time in Nationals history a reliever had thrown at least 66 pitches, but each previous guy to do it lasted more than three innings.

"Ideally, I'd like to be half of what I threw pitch count-wise, but my arm felt good and I was trying to pick up the bullpen a little bit and keep our team in the game," said Treinen, who lowered his ERA to 2.39. "Unfortunately, I walked a few guys (three) and got into deep counts and prolonged the process, but we were able to make some good plays behind me ... so it's a good team win."

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