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Wait finally over for Livan Hernandez, Tyler Clippard

Nationals starter Livan Hernandez had been the epitomy of hard luck during his previous six outings before Thursday's start against Pittsburgh. He had amassed an ERA of 3.44 in those six starts and walked just 10 batters. He also had not given up a homer in three straight games.

But none of those performances yielded that elusive fifth victory for which Hernandez had waited more than a month to achieve.

"One month and five days I don't win a ballgame," Hernandez said following a performance in which he lasted six innings and surrendered two runs and five hits. That showing was enough for his fifth win and brought a sigh of relief to the team leader in innings pitched (79).

To get to 5-3, Hernandez had to rely on the bullpen, which on this night sent Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard out for the final three innings. Burnett was stellar in two shutout innings, allowing two hits and no walks.

Then Clippard did the rest in the ninth to get the first save of his career. As Nationals fans rose to their feet in applause, Clippard finished off the game by striking out pinch hitter Ryan Church looking.

"I'm just happy to kind of contribute a little bit, whatever inning I pitch," said Clippard, who normally serves as the setup reliever for regular closer Matt Capps. "I'm having fun out there, and tonight I got the save, which is great. As a reliever, that's something I've accomplished now in my career."

Clippard pitched the ninth to give Capps rest before the team departs for a two-city, six-game road trip beginning Friday in Cleveland. Capps leads the majors with 20 saves.

"We had some other options we could have gone to," Manager Jim Riggleman said of how he used the bullpen tonight, "but I really wanted to give Matt at least the night off. He's been up and in a lot. [Drew] Storen has been up a lot. Storen felt great tonight, but I needed him for tomorrow because I may think about not using Clippard tomorrow. I really need Storen tomorrow. Capps may be back in there tomorrow. . . . It was going to have to be somebody else tonight, and I'm glad to see they got it done."

By Gene Wang  |  June 10, 2010; 11:15 PM ET
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Posted by: ihatewalks | June 11, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Ryan Church struck out looking?!

Where have I read this story before?

Posted by: ihatewalks | June 11, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

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