SAN DIEGO -- The Nationals had another game they would like to forget. In fact, manager Jim Riggleman went so far as to say that it was one of the worst games of the season -- as the Nationals lost to the Padres, 7-3, at PETCO Park on Thursday night.
It was a combination of not playing smart baseball and right-hander Livan Hernandez having one of his worst outings of the season.
"It was not a good game," Riggleman said. "The effort and intensity [was] there, but it was not a good game. We had a couple of things that happened on the bases. We walked people. It was not a pretty game. I don't know how else to say it."
The game was lost right from the start. Outfielder Rick Ankiel led off the game with a walk and then stole second after Ian Desmond struck out. Then, Ankiel did something that had a lot of people scratching their heads. He attempted to steal third base with Jason Werth at the plate. Ankiel was easily thrown out. A few pitches later, Werth tripled to right-center field, and was eventually left stranded at third base.
Riggleman, who tries to see the good in his players, had to admit that what Ankiel did was not smart.
"He thought he saw something there that he didn't see. He tried to go to third and he is out," Riggleman said.
Ankiel was short with the media, but acknowledged that he made a mistake.
"It was a bad time to run," he said. "It was a bad judgment on my [part]. I'll just leave it at that."
Hernandez, by his own admission, said he didn't give the team a chance to win. He lasted 5 1/3 innings and allowed six runs on nine hits. The outing started going sour in the first inning, when Chase Headley hit a two-run homer.
Washington would cut the lead in half an inning later against Padres right-hander Aaron Harang. With the bases loaded, Alex Cora hit a sacrifice fly that scored Michael Morse.
In the fifth inning, Anthony Rizzo, making his Major League debut, tripled to lead off the inning and scored on an infield single by outfielder Chris Denorfia.
"In Triple-A, there's a lot of guys that have been in the big leagues, and they're smart and they know how to pitch," Rizzo said. "That's exactly like Livan. He knows how to pitch, he stays on the corners -- and that's what I've been facing all year."
The Nationals added a run in the sixth, when Morse singled home Werth. But it was all Padres after that.
San Diego would add three more runs in the bottom of the sixth. Hernandez allowed Headley to score on a single by Brad Hawpe. Two batters later, after Nick Hundley hit into a fielder's choice, Riggleman decided to use his bullpen -- and that proved to be a disaster. Left-hander Sean Burnett entered the game and walked Rizzo to load the bases. Enter Cole Kimball, who walked Kyle Phillips to force Hawpe home. Logan Forsythe followed with a sacrifice fly to score Nick Hundley.
It would get worse in the seventh. Right-hander Henry Rodriguez was able to get two quick outs, but suddenly walked the bases loaded before unleashing a wild pitch that scored Ryan Ludwick to make it a 7-2 game.
Pinch-hitter Wilson Ramos hit a solo homer in the ninth to cap the scoring for the Nationals.
With the loss, the Nationals dropped their record to 27-36.
"Two months have passed, and we lose a lot of good games we are supposed to win," Hernandez said. "We feel it. We are human. We don't feel good about the games we lost by one run. It's hard. We got to continue to play hard. We haven't been hot. We haven't won seven or eight games in a row. The time has to come. I don't know when the time is coming. Every team has a good winning streak, and we don't have it [yet]."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He can also be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.