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Nationals 8, Brewers 3

The Washington Nationals don't have a stopper. They don't have an ace geared to halt losing streaks. But at least while they search for that element, the Nationals, every so often, can depend on another formula to get them out of ruts. What do they need? A decent pitching performance and some power from the most predictably dynamic part of their lineup.

With Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn combining for two home runs, two walks, four hits and four RBI, the Nationals jumped ahead early on Sunday afternoon against the Milwaukee Brewers and cruised to an 8-3 win at Nationals Park. They snapped a five-game losing streak with some help, too, from starter Craig Stammen, who went 6-1/3 innings (three runs) and gave the bullpen some much-needed rest.

Though the Nationals scored in all sorts of ways -- they manufactured three unearned runs in the first after an error from Milwaukee shortstop Alcides Escobar; a Nyjer Morgan suicide squeeze and a Cristian Guzman solo homer followed on back-to-back pitches in the second -- they also relied on Zimmerman and Dunn.

Dunn, leading off the third, took a long looping swing at a Manny Parra 1-1 curveball and airmailed it into the second deck in right. Zimmerman, in the fourth, showed off his gap power by riding a full-count changeup over the fence in right-center. For Dunn, it was the 33rd home run of the year. For Zimmerman, it was the 26th.

After the Zimmerman home run, Parra's miserable afternoon was over. The Milwaukee starter -- who entered with the highest ERA (6.33) among major leaguers with 100 or more innings pitched this season -- gave up eight runs in his 3-1/3.

It was more than enough of a lead for Stammen to hold. The rookie retired the first seven hitters of the afternoon and relied largely on ground ball outs. The Brewers scored single runs in the third, fifth and seventh, but Stammen notched a quality start, the first by a Washington starter since August 15.

Some additional notes here...

* Zimmerman and Dunn are now both ranked among the top 10 in the NL in home runs. Zimmerman is on pace for 34 homers this year. Dunn is on pace for 43. Not bad for a 3-4 combo.

* Last year, just for perspective, the Nationals got a combined 40 home runs for their 3-4 hitters. Their clean-up hitters had just 16, worst in the majors. Here's the full list of the 2008 No. 4 hitters: Austin Kearns, Nick Johnson, Lastings Milledge, Aaron Boone, Dmitri Young, Jesus Flores, Kory Casto, Ryan Langerhans, Elijah Dukes. Nobody started more than 35 games at the No. 4 spot.

* The Nationals are now 19-12 when Dunn homers... but just 8-16 when Zimmerman homers. Hmm.

* This was Stammen's fourth win of the season... meaning he now ties Ron Villone for third on the team. Only John Lannan and Shairon Martis have more than four wins this year, and Martis, who has five, last earned a "W" on May 13.

By Chico Harlan  |  August 23, 2009; 4:44 PM ET
 
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Comments

Stammen will do until SS gets here. Nats are 18-and-19 under Riggs. Let's get to .500 Monday, late afternoon. Ah, mediocrity. Ain't it grand!

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 23, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I had forgotten we batted Langershlang cleanup last year. Whenever anybody sez this team isn't making progress, think of that.
Plus, Morse looked good. That Rizzo could get a warm body for Langershlang is amazing.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 23, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

no love for Ronnie's huge 2-out RBI hit in the 2nd inning?

Posted by: DCguy7 | August 23, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

did i imagine that hit?

Posted by: DCguy7 | August 23, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

How funny is it that our 2nd place guy in wins is not only in the minors, but also hasn't earned a win in over 3 months. We should bring Martis up to finish the year in the bigs, I still think he can be an effective back of the rotation guy.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | August 23, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Did I imagine his grand slam last night? That was fun with the comeback last night. Too bad they couldn't finish it off. But at least they won today. hmmm, maybe I'm a jinx at the park.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 23, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Lots of folks are talking about Maris and Detweiller getting September callups when some of the young starters need to be "shut down". But don't their minor league innings count just as much? Can one of the experts on here enlighten me about how those 150 or 175 innings are counted? You would think that the only starting pitcher not approaching that limit would be Mock since he was a reliever until mid-year. But Lannan, Martin, Stammen, Detweiler, and Martis have all been starters and have been pitching regularly all year.

Great win today. Gee, I wonder how we are able to be so good without AK in the clubhouse...

Posted by: Section222 | August 23, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Boy, today at the park was a lot more fun than yesterday (although the Grand Slam was great). First of all, it WASN'T RAINING. That's always a plus. The suicide squeeze was a blast, too bad they don't have a fireworks shoot for that, but we had plenty of homer shots. And, of course, the win.

Funny when the other side gets frustrated by the ump and a player slams his helmet, utters the "magic" word, and gets ejected.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 23, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to Ronnie Belliard. His grand slam last night and timely hitting today prove that when played regularly he is still a crunch time hitter and comes through more than anyone else. I hope he stays. He may not be the speediest infielder anymore but he is certainly adequate and we need his bat. Willie is suffering from the infrequent bats now. Regular playing, he was hitting that ball everywhere. I would even think of putting Willie Harris in right field and getting rid of Dukes. I know he has potential but it is so hit and miss. He has a few great games at the plate, then is flat for 2 weeks. Average fielder. Give me Willies slash and run and his speed in the outfield and lets not forget his occasional homers - probably more than Dukes.

Posted by: HossyLady | August 23, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of helmet slams, evidently Francoeur did one after making one of the outs in an unassisted triple play today. Kinda cool (the play, not the helmet throw):

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=290823121

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 23, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

On the Dunn and Zimm homer stuff and how often we win I think it has to do with the fact that a lot of Zimms homers come with no one on base.

Posted by: HossyLady | August 23, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Looking at the team site, it appears that may have been Rivera's first Major League hit last night. Did they mention it on the broadcast? I noticed after his hit that the ball was taken out of play and was rolled over to the Nats' dugout. Fun to see our pitchers getting some hits in this year!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 23, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Natsfan1a1: Yes the tv duo(Carp&Dibb) did make note of Saul's first ML hit,yeah it is nice to see our hurlers putting the wood on the ball and how about Riggs calling for the suicide squeez by Nyjer old skool baby, old skool. Need to split this series and head out to Chi-town with a tad bit of momentum.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 23, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

For those of you following the results of the Nick Johnson trade, check out Aaaron Thompson's line tonight:

6IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 11SO!!! to bring his ERA down to 2.78 for the Senators.

And sadly Nick will likely miss all of the Mets series.

Kudos to Rizzo on that deadline deal and adding some pitching depth to the stable of talent.

Posted by: souldrummer | August 23, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

We watched very carefully to see how the W design on the back of the pitcher's mound is made. The groundskeepers have a stencil that they place on the ground, then the hose the stencil with liquid, then they pull up the stencil. Unfortunately, on a sunny day like today, it had dried up and disappeared by the 3rd inning.

Hope that helps, Nick, if you are still around. (I tried to get pictures but my cell camera is not good enough from far away).

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 23, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Another question: one of the ushers asked me what "IR" means on the scoreboard. He said he knew most of the abbreviations that show up, such as rain-delay, snow (in Chicago in April), once he saw "W" for wind...

I'm guessing it means "injury delay" because "IR" could mean injured reserve. Anyone?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 23, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

@natsfan1a1 -- Thanks for posting the link to the ESPN report on the Mets-Phillies game and the unassisted triple play. Anyone notice the game started with an inside the park homer by Pagano when the ball lodged under the wall in left-centerfield?

"Center fielder Shane Victorino threw his hands up, looking for a ground-rule double, as Pagan slowed into third, but second base umpire Rob Drake allowed play to go on and Pagan raced home for his first career inside-the-park homer.

Charlie Manuel said the issue wasn't covered when the umpires went over ground rules before the game.

"They never talked about that," he said. "

Sounds exactly like the play last night. I wonder what would have happened if Belliard had kept running instead of stopping at 2nd.

Posted by: Section222 | August 23, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

I add my support for my man Ronnie. First inning, runners on 2nd and 3rd, no outs (but one run in): Zim and Dunn make no headway, but Belliard comes through and sets the tone for the game. He also made a great defensive play going toward second and throwing in mid-air, perfect strike to Dunn. He gets my vote to play 2B every day next year.

BTW, in all the years I have been going to baseball games, this was the first suicide squeeze I have ever personally witnessed.

Posted by: ammonite88 | August 23, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

That play last night was so strange. I couldn't believe it when Zimm was sent back to 3rd base after being signaled safe at home. I'm still not sure I totally understand it.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 23, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

"For those of you following the results of the Nick Johnson trade, check out Aaaron Thompson's line tonight:

6IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 11SO!!! to bring his ERA down to 2.78 for the Senators."

Exactly souldrummer. Another #1 draft pick starting pitcher. And this one is a left hander to boot. Yep, he will be given every opportunity to make the Major League pitching staff. And he knows it. IMHO, he wasn't so sure of where he stood with Florida. Now that Rizzo is permanent, Thomson knows Rizzo wanted him ... wouldn't let Nick go unless he were included in the trade.

While we're on the topic of pitchers:

Sure looks to me like Mock, JD Martin, and Stammen are the W's top 3 starters performance wise. Both Balester and Lannan have significantly dropped off. If Mock and JD Martin continue to improve they could end having starting pitching slots at the beginning of next year. The case for Mock Martin and Stammen? 0 - 1 WALKS in 6 innings, an increase in innings pitched and strikeout totals, with a corresponding decrease in the pitch count.

Posted by: periculum | August 23, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

In my section they play the radio over the loudspeaker. Charlie/Dave didn't even say "suicide squeeze" at first. Since the pitcher had just sac-bunted Morse to third base, they then said, Morgan sac-bunted him home. After a few seconds, I think they realized what we had all witnessed.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 23, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Only 20 games to 100 losses.

Posted by: periculum | August 23, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

"I couldn't believe it when Zimm was sent back to 3rd base after being signaled safe at home. I'm still not sure I totally understand it."

On a ground rule double, base runners are given two bases from wherever they are when the ball is hit. Zimmerman was on first, therefore the farthest he could advance on a ground rule double was third.

Posted by: nunof1 | August 23, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

I believe IR means interrupted by rain.

Posted by: markfromark | August 23, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

The fence call is actually not a ground rule, it's a baseball rule. Any ball that "sticks in a fence" is a double.

Posted by: markfromark | August 23, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the confirmation on Rivera's hit, dargregmag. You're welcome re. the link, 222. NatsLady, can't remember whether it was Dibble or Carpenter who immediately shouted out "suicide squeeze" at that point in the game, but the tv guys picked up on it right away.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 23, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

I listened to the replay on MLB.com and I'm pretty sure it was Sunshine (Carpenter) and he was real excited. What made it surprising to me was that the old-school "playbook" says you are only supposed to use the suicide squeeze when you desparately need exactly one run (e.g., bottom of the 9th or the 14th). Here we were only in the 2nd inning and already ahead by three runs.

But who could resist with Mr. Bunt at the plate?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 23, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Mike Morse could turn out to be another nice pickup for Mr. Rizzo. The guy is versatile in the field and good with the bat. Give him some reps.

Let's also give some credit to Ronnie Belliard along with Jim Riggleman who believed in Ronnie and said it publicly when Jim took over the helm. Ronnie wasn't even hitting .200 and Riggleman called him a professional hitter.

I for one would have DFA'd him then. Not that the Nats are going to the playoffs or anything, but it is nice to see a nice guy like Ronnie get some props for doing well.

Posted by: dmacman88 | August 23, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

dmacman88,

The reason Seattle gave up on Morse was because he was known as "clank" for his glove. He is versatile as long as you don't over expose him. He does have a decent bat. His glove is comparable to Willie Harris's bat.

Posted by: WashOut | August 23, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Morse was the starting shortstop at Seattle for awhile so he has had the reps. He has better value as a pinch hitter and very occasional starter.

Posted by: WashOut | August 23, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

@dmac: I was pleasantly surprised first look at Morse. Looked like a professional hitter. Typical Rizzo pickup: no glitz, no glorious upside, no toolsy outfielder waiting to break your heart. Just a solid, versatile ballplayer who might crack the 25-man next year in the absence of Belli, Dukes, Super Willie et al. More I see of Rizzo's moves, the more I'm impressed.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 23, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

jd

Rizzo is the anti-Bowden.

Posted by: leetee1955 | August 23, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Very well said, leetee, very well said. What a very pleasant surprise: a team that is a reflection of a competent GM.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 23, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

@markformark -- If any hit that sticks in the fence is a double, then why did Pagano get an inside the park home run in today's Phillies-Mets game? More importantly, why did Lajoie get one in Cleveland's game against New York on July 5, 1907?

Posted by: Section222 | August 23, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Nats_Lady: Just catching up on reading. Thanks so much for the info! Soooo...Water...I have noticed that on hot, sunny days, the W seems to fade as the game goes on. Again thanks!

Posted by: NickfromGermantown | August 23, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo is the anti-Bowden.

Posted by: leetee1955

If he locks Bryce Harper up next year to status quo again, he's god.

Posted by: Brue | August 23, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

jdschultz50 on Morse: "Just a solid, versatile ballplayer who might crack the 25-man next year in the absence of Belli, Dukes, Super Willie et al."

I thought Willie might have been traded by the deadline but he was not. He is under contract with the Nats through 2010, so we might get to see one more year of Super Willie. Belliard's contract is up after this year.

And Dukes? Well, let's see what he does the rest of this year. He's certainly been a bit cool lately.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | August 23, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Another question: one of the ushers asked me what "IR" means on the scoreboard. He said he knew most of the abbreviations that show up, such as rain-delay, snow (in Chicago in April), once he saw "W" for wind...

***************************************

On the out-of-town scoreboard, the term "IR" siginifies a rain delay. I sometimes have my portable XM at the park, so I actually cross-checked one time to figure that out for myself.

Posted by: BGinVA | August 24, 2009 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Morse, if he is known as "clank", then what would you call Willingham and Dunn? Langerhans bats left, Morse bats right. Seattle needed a left-handed hitter.

Posted by: periculum | August 24, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

I'm very impressed, section 222, with that 1907 Lajoie reference. Mets manager Manuel conceded that this eventuality had not been discussed in the pre-gsme ground rule go-over.
But on another rarity today, my co-workers were impressed tonight that I remembered Ron Hansen's unassisted triple play for the '68 Nats, and of course the Wambsganns' triple play in the '20 series. Invite me to bar, and I'll win you since trivia bets.

Posted by: nats24 | August 24, 2009 1:58 AM | Report abuse

If any hit that sticks in the fence is a double, then why did Pagano get an inside the park home run in today's Phillies-Mets game? More importantly, why did Lajoie get one in Cleveland's game against New York on July 5, 1907?

I would assume the rule in 1907 was different. At that time, for instance, a ball that bounced over the fence was a homerun. Also, they didn't have homerun replays. Have no idea about the current example. But that's what the rulebook says today.

Posted by: markfromark | August 24, 2009 6:46 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo is a grown-up. He was also very nice to fans at the "picnic in the park" on Saturday.

Posted by: Section109 | August 24, 2009 7:39 AM | Report abuse

@dmac: I was pleasantly surprised first look at Morse. Looked like a professional hitter. Typical Rizzo pickup: no glitz, no glorious upside, no toolsy outfielder waiting to break your heart. Just a solid, versatile ballplayer who might crack the 25-man next year in the absence of Belli, Dukes, Super Willie et al. More I see of Rizzo's moves, the more I'm impressed.

Posted by: jdschulz50
----------------------------------

Willie is under contract for 2010 at $1.5 million. I know there are a lot of Dukes haters on here but I see Dukes as a part of the starting outfield in 2010 unless a trade happens. The man has one of the most respected arms in the game and when he gets comfortable at the plate can be a game changer.

Belliard is the man on the fence right now as he is a Free Agent.

Posted by: dmacman88 | August 24, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

DMAC - I agree. Having Dukes behind Willingham next year and Flores behind Dukes and the 2nd baseman in the 8 hole provides for a very potent offense "AS IS".

I think it comes down to Bernadina, Morse, and Willie Harris as possible outfield reserves and Morse and Harris can also play infield positions.

Belliard and Kearns will be gone and I don't see Padilla sticking around.

So unless there is a trade or Free Agent signing, Bernadina, Morse and Harris will be competing for the last 2 slots on the 25 man.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | August 24, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

@JDSchultz50,

Stephen Strasburg ***IS NOT A SAVIOR*** he may not even make it as far as the big leagues. You need only look at the number of #1's sitting in the Nats minor leagues that haven't come all the way up to see that ... on this point PHIL RIZZO is right ... he may never earn the bonus money he has received. Its all a part of the building process ...

Its why Mike Rizzo signed 2 pitchers that day ... both over slot. Nathan Karns was also signed. Eventually, one or more of the 15, soon to be 20+ pitchers will pan out. Rizzo is approaching this the right way. Lots and lots of college pitching (as opposed to high school types).

Posted by: periculum | August 24, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

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