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A Win, A Milestone, A DFA

Deep exhale. Plenty to talk about. The good news, for those denizens of NatsTown, came in abundance today, and that's before we even count the post-game "deletion" of reliever Jesus Colome. A 29-year-old slugger hit his 300th career homer. A Nats starter went eight innings, earning a win. The Nats staged a four-run eighth inning comeback and broke a four-game skid.

Among the highlights from the Nats' 5-3 victory against Atlanta:

* John Lannan improved to 6-5 with a steady, efficient performance. He allowed nine hits but induced four double plays, and went eight innings. He was trailing, 3-1, when he exited, but in the bottom of the eighth Washington's offense finally helped him out, scoring four runs against relievers Mike Gonzalez and Peter Moylan.

* That eighth inning was a carousel of quality at bats. Ronnie Belliard came off the bench, pinch-hitting, and worked a single to left. Josh Bard, also pinch-hitting, drew a walk. Nyjer Morgan dropped down a textbook sac bunt. Nick Johnson drew a full-count walk. Ryan Zimmerman tied the game with a two-run single, and then Adam Dunn (swinging at the first pitch!) sailed a liner to center, giving the Nats the go-ahead run.

* Oh, and Dunn, one inning earlier, had poked the only hole in an otherwise dominant seven-inning performance from Atlanta rookie Tommy Hanson, clubbing his 300th career homer to the second deck in right field. An absolute blast. Probably between 440 and 450. Dunn, with that homer, became the 123rd member of the 300-homer club. And he's just the 13th to reach that plateau before age 30.

* After the game, the Nationals officially designated relief pitcher Jesus Colome for assignment. Chances are slim we'll be seeing him again, though the team has 10 days to trade Colome, release him, or place him on waivers. If he clears waivers, Colome can either report to the minors or become a free agent. Jason Bergmann, as previously noted, will be called up from Class AAA Syracuse in advance of tomorrow's game.

* Before you head off to the evening fireworks show, here's the post-milestone Q&A with Adam Dunn:

---

Q: How significant was this milestone for you?

At the time, it really wasn't that significant, but the reason I say that -- it was a solo home run and we were still down by two. What made it special, two things: The way that we won the game, that was awesome. And the way the crowd got into it. I know we haven't talked about them very much, and I don't know how many people were here, but from the seventh inning on it was very loud and energetic. It made it great. It was awesome.

Q: Did Lannan really come up to you after the seventh inning homer and say 'We're going to win this game?'

Yeah, he did. In the seventh inning. You know, maybe he sees dead people, too.

Q: Was that right in the dugout after you came back in?

Yeah. I don't even -- yeah, it had to have been. Because I led off the inning. Yeah, he did. I can't take it away from him. He said, 'We're going to win this game.'

Q: How good do you feel for Lannan, though, because he's been on the wrong end so many times even when he's pitched well?

Well, again, after the game I told him that we must not like him because he's pitched so well and we can't score runs for him. But that guy from the Braves today, Hanson, was really really good. But we hung in there, and John kept us close, and that eighth inning was great. It all started with that [Nyjer Morgan] sacrifice bunt. That's something we haven't been able to do. And we got a couple big hits.

Q: What's more memorable, the 300th homer or the game-winning hit?

Like I said, that 300th homer would have been -- it would have been hard to talk about (if we'd lost), because it would have been a useless home run and it would have been really hard to talk about. What made it special, like I said -- I can't get over the fans. I don't know if y'all noticed, but it was incredible.

Q: Did you know the team was going to put together that on-screen video montage?

No, that was nice, too. Again, that's something they obviously didn't have to do. And that was awesome.

Q: You got the ball back?

Yeah.

Q: And the guy who caught it didn't want anything for it?

The guy was awesome. A lot of times people think that ball is worth something... but it's not. (Chuckles.) You've got to get it authenticated and this and that, but it still wouldn't be worth nothing. It would cost you more to ship it. But again, for him to not want anything other than, I think we gave him a signed jersey and a couple balls. I told him he can call me any time for tickets. He was just a class person. I couldn't have hit it to a better guy.

Q: First curtain call here. How good was that?

It was good. From the seventh inning on, the fans were -- I don't know what sparked them or what got into them, but they were loud and energetic. I really think if the fans can have any impact on a game, they did tonight.

Q: The majesty of a tape-measure home run, does that register with you at all? Are all home runs, regardless of distance, created equal?

I mean, that was just one of those things where I think it was good because he (Hanson) was mowing us down left and right, and that hit maybe rattled them a little bit or something. I don't know.

Q: They count the same whether they're a row in or 450 feet, but No. 299 and 300, you haven't been cheated at all.

They've been hit pretty good.

Q: You're 29 years old. You have 300 home runs. How far can you go?

Until I retire. I feel great. You're talking to me like I'm 39. I'm only 29. I've got a whole lot of baseball left.

Q: But I just meant, do you think you can reach 500 or 600?

That number, that's an incredible number, and there are a lot of things that have to go right. You have to stay healthy. You've got to be very productive for a long time. So I'm gonna sit here and say, 'I don't know.'

Q: You're coming up on the halfway point of the season and the all-star game. How would you assess things for you this year? Do you feel like you've had one of your best seasons?

Again, that's something -- I don't know how to put that into words. There have been so many opportunities this year that, personally, have been not very good. Awful. And it's just tough kind of looking at personal stats when our record is what it is. I mean, I would give back every single home run if we could be whatever our record is, but flip-flopped. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Winning is everything in this game. Period.

By Chico Harlan  |  July 4, 2009; 5:03 PM ET
 
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Comments

Great to celebrate a win for Independence Day. All the Nats faithful in our section were so excited. I'm happy for all the guys but especially for Lannan, Dunn and Ronnie Belliard, who started the rally, scored the tying run, and was the first out of the dugout to congratulate McDougal. There's fire in the old dog yet.

Not surprising about Colome. Will be interesting to see if he is claimed.

Posted by: longhorn64 | July 4, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Thank god we finally got the Colome for Bergmann swap, now (even with his lead off single) I say we DFA Belliard and bring up another pitcher for the bullpen (I think JD Martin would be good since he doesn't seem to have the "stuff" to be an MLB starter.)

I'm also expecting to see Detwiler make his next start in AAA, bring back Balester for the next 2 months and see how much he really has improved since April.

Posted by: estuartj | July 4, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I really like Adam Dunn. He has a great attitude -- team first, wins before stats, appreciative of the fans. Congratulations, Adam, and thanks for coming to DC!

Posted by: LeesburgDad | July 4, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

anybody know why dukes hasn't appeared in a game in syracuse yet?

Posted by: natsfan13 | July 4, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

If I had to bet I'd say that he showed up with an attitude and the manager is letting him sit. I've heard that he was hated by the players in DC.

Posted by: MKadyman | July 4, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Totally second that, Leesburg. It's great to see him care a ton about his new team and how the wins are what counts. No prima donna attitude, and he's a great read/interview to boot. I mean, with lines like "maybe he sees dead people, too," his sense of humor's awesome. Muchcongrats to him on his 300th, and as he would say, more importantly, the great win!!

Posted by: HotNats | July 4, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Deal Johnson. Keep Dunn.

Posted by: Wittan | July 4, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Who decides which players do the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game? Has Dunn been invited yet?

Posted by: Juan-John | July 4, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

I think Dukes may have been dinged up and if you going to send him down to get himself straightened out, best to let him get fully healthy first.

I'm betting if/when Johnson is traded (Mets or RedSox?) then Dunn moves to 1B, Willingham to LF and we'll see if they bring Dukes back up to start in RF or is they torture us with Kearns again.

I'm also hoping they'll DFA Belliard (despite today's pinch hit) before the road trip and take along an 8th reliever (JD Martin seems a good fit for a bullpen tryout).

Posted by: estuartj | July 4, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Funny. I'm out of town and spent most of the game "watching" via the pitch-by-pitch on MLB's mobile site. During the big rally, I thought, "Those fans must be going nuts." Maybe it was just a lucky guess, or maybe it's because I've seen our summer daytime crowds for good games, but what so surprised Dunn was exactly what I expected.

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 4, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Colome = DFA... About time...

Now if we can get rid of the Robot -- Mr. Actaclueless, this team just might avoid 115-120 losses...


Tip of the cap, though, to Lumpy Dunn... He showed again that he can hit the ball a mile -- 300 times. Congrats.

Posted by: randy_boyd | July 4, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

@nf13: There's a 72-hour "report" window for players being sent down; I'd imagine that Dukes will be on the SYR bench tonight; The question then becomes, what does SYR do? - Bergmann's callup leaves them really short in the bullpen.

Posted by: BinM | July 4, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Its hard for me to take anything that Rizzo or Many Acta have to say at face value, There is no credibility. Absolutely none. When you shuttle guys back and forth from the minors, DFA or trade guys like Hanrahan and Hincklely, claim that productivity and attitude are important. So, you trade for a Njyger Morgan?

As Chico stated, you have one of the statistically best pitchers at any level of baseball down in AAA. He is an all star. Yeah he had Tommy John's but unlike Matt Chico who had it as well, no one ever mentions bringing him up to he majors? He is only 26!? Unlike Matt Chico he is a 1st round draft pick.

Acta and Rizzo speak with forked tongues and do really stoopid things.

Posted by: periculum | July 4, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Binm how is Syracuse hurting again? They are starting JD Martin tonight who has been pretty consistent in giving them 7 quality innings?

Relievers (without Bergmann) : Zenicola (a prospect, and prospective closer/ short relief), Kensing, Ramirez, Sosa, Rivera ... familiar names ... I think Kensing is now the closer. Doyne is injured.

Starters: Martin, Balester, Mock, Martis, and Estrada?

10 pitchers. They can always pull someone from AA.

Posted by: periculum | July 4, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

estuartj, I like Ronnie Belliard very much, but I too am ready to see him go. But, man, 13 pitchers? It just sounds crazy every time I hear it. Makes me want to start a rant that begins with "In my day" and ends with everybody else in the next room.

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 4, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Morse, the guy they got for Langerhans, is hitting .583. If he an field ...

Posted by: periculum | July 4, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm betting Balester starts vs Colorado on Wednesday instead of Detwiler. Bally's last start was Thursday so that would be 6 days rest and the Nats haven't announced a starter for the game on the 8th.

Posted by: estuartj | July 4, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Good for Lannan, he may have been outpitched by Hanson but he kept the team in the game and our bullpen out of the game. The Braves bullpen was shaky last night and made it into meltdown mode today. Of course MacDougal did his best to give back the 8th inning rally. He was so wild the Braves didn't see any decent pitches. The real bonus today was the Colome DFA, finally, although somewhat dampened by the Bergmann callup.

Posted by: SackMan | July 4, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

@periculum: Stop obsessing on JD Martin for a minute & look at reality. I never said SYR was hurting, just that they were short in the bullpen. As of 7/4/09 SYR has six SP - (Balester /Ramirez /Mock /Martin /Estrada /Martis) and five pitchers in the bullpen - (Sosa/ Rivera/ Larrison/ Ledezma/ Kensing).
Based on days off, either Martin or Martis starts tonight. I'd guess that Martin gets the start tonight & Martis starts tomorrow, with Estrada (2nd in IP for SYR) shifting to the bullpen.

Posted by: BinM | July 4, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

BinM,

Ramirez is a starter but hasn't pitched much in the last 2 years. A 1979 guy, he appears to be well past Natsguy's criteria for a "prospect". Whereas JD Martin was born in 1983, pretty close to most all starters currently in the majors, and in AAA with the exception of Balester who is the youngest.

Ramirez could ostensibly pitch in relief. Of course Jesus Colome could clear waivers and be sent to Syracuse as well.

Acta and Rizzo need to stop being so reactive and be a bit more proactive. They now have a closer in McDougal. Bergmann is good enough. They have yet another TJ former 1st rounder in Burnett. They now have Clippard.

They just need to dispense with Tavarez, Villone (born 1970), and Beimel. Why bother? There season is over. Might as well bring up the young relievers and let them pitch.

Might as well send down Detwiler for more seasoning and bring up JD Martin who does not appear to need any further seasoning in the minors.

Posted by: periculum | July 4, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Let's hope Storer shows enough to be called up. Maybe that plus the trade for a decent middle reliever or two will fix the problems for next year.

Posted by: periculum | July 4, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Storen: 10 strikeouts, 0 walks in 9 innings. There are the two homeruns ... but he is looking pretty good ... might be the closer next year along with McDougal.

Posted by: periculum | July 4, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals finally made the move on Colome.

A week after trading Hanrahan (7.71 ERA), the club has now shed a guy with an even higher ERA at 8.40 who at 30 still cannot consistently perform at a major league level.

Posted by: leopard09 | July 4, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

According to the SYR Chiefs Web site boxscore, Dukes isn't in the starting lineup tonight, either. I say it's 50/50 whether this guy ever reports, and may have played his last game in D.C. See Thrilledge, 2009.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | July 4, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

went to gameday audio to listen to this afternoon's win because i was with family. just before the top of the sixth, the "my man, elijah dukes" MASN audio promo ran. doesn't anyone with the nats radio network know that "my man" is in SYR?

Posted by: surly_w | July 4, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Could be a coded message, and not just a promo. Don't forget that "my man, elijah dukes" readily anagrammatizes to "eel jihad, many musk".

Posted by: Ted_Striker | July 4, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Something must seriously be going on with Dukes in Syracuse, they just let the pitcher bat in the bottom of the 11th with Dukes and Yepes (SS) still on the bench.

Posted by: estuartj | July 4, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Anybody that saw the P-Nats tonight, what did they think of Bradley Myers? I saw he got the win, and his stats look promising, but does he fit the Mike Rizzo style of pitching?

Posted by: wrw0601 | July 4, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

This is the second game i've noticed that the crowd livened up and we got a win.

ihatewalks, were you sitting in 409 today? I thought i saw you but I blanked on your real name. I'm sure shouting "hey, i hate walks" probably would have been okay, if a little weird, but I wasn't sure it would necessarily get your attention. LOL.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 4, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

How cool is this: our little free program at the ballpark this weekend said that Micky Mantle hit his 300th home run on the 4th of July in 1960.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 5, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

wow, ihatewalks, you must be special, because she's quite fine strolling up to me howling "It's Section 506 and his Red-headed Cubs-fan girlfriend!"

Posted by: Section506 | July 5, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

how embarrassing. i must have learned my lesson on that one.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 5, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

just for the record, for those of you who have not been paying attention, manny acta is part of the solution, not part of the problem. you don't throw away actual adult supervision whenever you are so fortunate as to have it...

Posted by: natty-bumppo | July 5, 2009 4:00 AM | Report abuse

Agree natty-bumpo,

The Nats have been bargain-hunting the whole time they have been here, at first under control of MLB and now under this amazingly frugal ownership. The Nats mostly play other clubs' rejects, while frugally developing their own talent. So what's the cause of the 100+ loss seasons? The manager? Hardly.

Posted by: EdDC | July 5, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Like a lot of fans, I don't agree with every move Manny makes, but, I do not think he is the problem and should stay also.

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 5, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

As for Manny there are two questions that need to be answered, then Acta's fate will be clear.

1. Is Rizzo going to be GM after this year?

2. Is Acta the kind of Manager Rizzo wants?

Best guess is yes and no, Rizzo wants a task master, not a mentor. Preach and Teach was Bowden's idea for the job, not Rizzo's so look for a change to come. IMO.

Posted by: estuartj | July 5, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Rizzo needs a manager who is wise enough to bring Jonathon Papelbon in from the bullpen when he wants to hold onto a lead. Manny keeps bringing in all these bums!

Posted by: EdDC | July 5, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Good one, Ed! He never has Manny Ortez DH, either.

wrw, Meyers had some problems in the 1st inning, then started to settle down, which I gather is not an unusual progression for him (groundout, walk, 2 singles, then, with the bases loaded, a popout and a groundout). He walked another batter to lead off the 2nd inning, then retired the next three batters. His final line was 6 5 0 0 2 5 0 (1.43 ERA, 9 groundouts and 4 flyouts). We were wondering how fast he was throwing, as they don't display that on the scoreboard there. We were just to the side of the dish and the ball had an audible pop when it hit the catcher's mitt.

The P-Nats beat the Keys 4-1 (the Keys scored on a double, WP, and groundout in the 7th). Owner Art Silber did the honors with Lou Gehrig's speech in the bottom of the 7th. The crowed of 10,789 was a record for the Pfitz, and the fireworks show afterwards was fun. Actually, there was a glitch when one of the pyro crew jumped the gun and started shooting them off after the teams took the field in the top of the 9th, with reliever Adam Carr on the mound. He was not a happy camper. After a few premature explosions, the show was stopped and the game finished (two groundouts and a swinging K). Another oddity, this one after the game, was when a middle-aged guy wearing Armor Alls and a batting helmet rounded the bases and ended with a head-first slide into home. One of the P-Nats staff members took a photo and some of the players were watching with glee. I can only surmise that the fellow lost a bet of some sort.

Oh, and throwback Cannons mascot Big Shot had a birthday dance-off with Uncle Slam. They both had some, um, interesting moves. Evidently Big Shot came back for the June 21 Cannons throwback game and decided to stick around. All in all, a great day at the park and a great 4th. I told my husband on the way home that, what with the Wash-Nats and the P-Nats wins, I felt like I'd won the lottery.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 5, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and for Juan-John, Marrero lofted a ball that we all thought might go out, but it dropped in for a double. He also struck out, reached on an error, and walked.

Also, the P-Nats played a clean game with no errors (defense having been something of an issue for them this year). Catcher Brian Peacock made some nice stops behind the plate.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 5, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Gosh, that was kind of a long post, wasn't it? :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 5, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

All of you Manny supporters!! get back on your meds you all are certifiably loony,how is it that Frank Robinson took a bunch of castoffs and won 81 games and this manager who's been here almost three years,and has a much better team then the 05 squad is on track to lose a 115 games and you want to bring him back and for what pray tell? to break the major league record for loses. Manny Acta is a nice guy but he is not a major league manager, if you look at the performance of this years team it speaks volumes about this teams lack of preperation,dedication, and attention to detail. The Nationals lead the league in errors, and have the worst era in all of major league baseball, while Manny doesn't hit,field, or think he is the manager and exactly what were they doing during spring training? yes they will win the occasional game or put together a modest win streak but contend? NO! the saddest part of this situation is that we're just days away from the all star break and for all and intent and purpose the season for this team is over and Manny Acta has to be held accountable. I've said it on this website many times Tim Foli current manager of this orginization's triple A affiliate in Syracuse should be named manager of the Nationals after the all star break that would go a long way in establishing credibility with a deserving fan base.

Posted by: dargregmag | July 5, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

New post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 5, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

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