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Tyler Clippard slows it down, steps it up

The Nationals could not breakthrough last night against Josh Johnson and the Marlins bullpen, but maybe, they hope, Tyler Clippard did. His outing last night was easily overlooked in their 2-0 loss, but Clippard might have righted himself.

After a spate of rocky outings -- he had a 15.60 ERA and three losses in his last seven games -- Clippard pitched two perfect innings, six up and six down, with a strikeout. Clippard topped out at 92 or 93 miles per hour, less than the 94 and 95 he had been hitting. Staying at the slightly slower velocity, Manager Jim Riggleman, is best for Clippard.

"He kept the ball down better," Riggleman said. "A little more finesse with his pitches. When he throws it an area up there about 93, he gets some swings and misses. When he gets it at 95, it's impressive, but it's too high. They don't swing at them."

Riggleman said he's still comfortable with Clippard pitching late in the game, the seventh or eighth inning. He'll decide who sets up Matt Capps based on matchups. Drew Storen will be called on if an inning will bring right-handed batters -- Storen has struck out 15 of the 67 right-handers he's faced while holding them to a .125 batting average. Since Storen has allowed left-handers to hit .342, Clippard or Sean Burnett will be counted on in innings that with lefties scheduled to bat.

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 18, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
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