Nats' comeback falls short in loss to Rockies

Nats' comeback falls short in loss to Rockies
June 23, 2013, 6:45 pm
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Davey diagnoses Detwiler's downfall

One day after falling down early thanks to a miserable outing by Dan Haren, the Nats once again found themselves playing catchup because of their starting pitcher. This time it was Ross Detwiler who turned in a disastrous start, allowing seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings of work, including two home runs and nine total hits.

The Nats rallied to cut the deficit to one, but it was not enough in their 7-6 loss to the Rockies on Sunday. Detwiler dug a large hole and continued what has been a rough month for Nationals starters. In June they hold a 4.43 ERA as a rotation through 20 games.

Manager Davey Johnson attributed Detwiler’s bad day to pitch selection.

“He’s been relying since he’s been here on his fastball, and it’s a good fastball hitting club,” Johnson said. 

“If you don’t hit your spots on sinkers down and away, they’re going to hurt you. First ball he gave up to Cuddy was a four-seamer out over the plate. It’s a good fastball hitting club, and you have to use set-up pitches. He’s still early in doing that.”

Detwiler’s afternoon started to turn in the second inning when he allowed a solo home run to Michael Cuddyer. He then allowed three more runs in the third and another three in the fourth.

Nolan Arenado added the other home run in the fourth inning, another solo shot. Beyond the two home runs, Detwiler allowed seven singles and a walk.

The lefty felt he pitched well, the Rockies just kept dropping soft hits. He also disagreed with Johnson’s idea of pitch sequencing.

“Couple hard hit balls and they were just putting the bat on the ball and they were falling in today,” he said. “There was two hard-hit balls and everything else just fell in.”

Down 7-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Nats began chipping away at the lead. They put two runs on the board in the bottom of the frame off a Chris Marrero groundout and a Kurt Suzuki sacrifice fly.

Later on, in the eighth inning, the Nats struck for four runs and nearly put together their biggest comeback of the season.

Steve Lombardozzi and Denard Span began the rally with singles and were accompanied on base by Jeff Kobernus who walked. Ryan Zimmerman then singled home two runs as the next batter. And he and Kobernus then scored on a Jhonatan Solano double to left-center field.

The inning ended as Ian Desmond struck out swinging, leaving the Nats with just three more outs to tie it up. Rockies’ closer Rex Brothers took care of them in the bottom of the ninth and sent the Nats to 37-38 on the season, one game under .500 once again.

Zimmerman said it feels like the Nats are treading water, but to score six runs after going down seven could bode well for them moving forward.

“I think having a rally late in the game is nice,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest rallies we’ve had. We’ve played so many close games, and just haven’t been pushing the runs across late to win games that maybe last year we would. But we’re taking steps in the right direction and ultimately it’s a loss and it’s frustrating but take the positives out of it and go on.”

The Nats split the four-game series with Colorado after dropping the last two. Zimmerman thinks overall the weekend can be looked at as a positive.

“It was a step in the right direction,” he said. “Split a four-game series against a pretty good team is not too bad. Now we’ll have a day off and come back against another good team and try to get it going again.”

As the Nats attempted their comeback on Sunday, relievers Craig Stammen and Ian Krol helped keep them in the game. Stammen took over in the fourth for Detwiler and pitched 2 1/3 innings with zero earned runs. Krol was perfect through the seventh and eighth innings, and has yet to allow a run through 8 2/3 career innings in the majors.

The Nationals are off Monday with the Arizona Diamondbacks coming to town for a three-game series on Tuesday.