Hill's effort spoiled against Padres
Nationals righty turns in fifth straight quality start in loss
SAN DIEGO -- Look at Shawn Hill's numbers on Tuesday night against the Padres and they indicate he had his fifth consecutive quality start. The Nationals' right-hander pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on four hits in a 3-0 loss at PETCO Park.A sinkerball pitcher, Hill was able to get eight ground-ball outs. He struck out five batters and walked three. Both manager Manny Acta and catcher Brian Schneider thought Hill threw the ball very well. Talk to Hill about is outing, however, and one would think he was lit up. He mentioned that his right forearm, which has been bothering him since Spring Training, doesn't allow him to make full extension of his pitches. While there is no official diagnosis, Hill believes he has a nerve problem in the forearm. "I thought I threw the ball terrible, personally. There were a lot of hard-hit balls. There were a lot of walks, which is not good for me," Hill said. "I kept us in it a little bit, but I didn't throw the ball the way I would like to. I was out of whack -- mechanics-wise -- a little bit." "I always expect to do well. You don't want to give up two or three runs. If I pitch well and I get a couple of bad breaks, then I can kind of live with it. When I pitch the way I pitched today, in my mind, I didn't think I did a good job. I kind of got lucky breaks." Schneider was surprised when told what Hill had said. In fact, after he finished talking to the media, Schneider showed his leadership skills by talking to Hill and questioning why he was being so negative. Schneider warned Hill not to say such things to the media. "He thinks I shouldn't be so harsh on myself, for one. If I am, keep it to myself a little bit," Hill said. "Basically, if there's something wrong, we can talk about it, look at the video and try to figure it out." Before talking to Hill, Schneider said it was easy for Hill to be critical of himself because he didn't get the win. "He sits back and thinks, 'Why did I give up some runs?' I think he threw the ball great. I wish he wouldn't be critical," Schneider said. "The last thing he needs to do is wonder what he did wrong. At the end, it ended up being three runs, but that's a quality start, and that's all you can ask of him." Hill had a scare with his troublesome left shoulder in the third inning. Padres outfielder Jose Cruz Jr. hit the ball to first baseman Dmitri Young's right. Young backhanded the ball made and threw the ball wide of Hill, who was covering first base. Hill tried to reach out to catch the ball, but it went under his glove, and he tweaked the shoulder. Hill bent down in pain, but after taking some warmup pitches, he stayed in the game. Hill originally hurt the shoulder on April 20 diving back to third base against the Marlins. For about 15 seconds, he thought he had to come out. "It's kind of one of those where it wears off. It was kind of like rolling your ankle and you walk it off a little bit," Hill said. The first run off Hill was scored in the fourth inning when Adrian Gonzalez doubled down the right-field line to score Brian Giles. In the seventh, Kevin Kouzmanoff tripled over Austin Kearns' glove in right field to score Mike Cameron. Left-hander Micah Bowie replaced Hill, and Kouzmanoff scored on a squeeze bunt by Oscar Robles. On offense, Washington was no match for right-hander Chris Young, who pitched eight innings, giving up three hits and striking out eight batters. The only time the Nationals had runners in scoring position was in the sixth and seventh innings. The Nationals had problems catching up to Young's fastball, which is known to rise on a hitter. "Great outing by Chris Young," Acta said. "All the credit goes to him. He was just dominant the whole night. He changed eye level real good. He kept that fastball up, we kept chasing it and then his breaking ball was sharp," The Young that Hill saw on Tuesday is not the one that he remembers. The two were teammates in the Expos' Minor League system, and Hill said that Young didn't have good command of his pitches back then. "I think when he went to the Rangers, something clicked there. That's why I was surprised they got rid of him," Hill said. "I remember seeing one of his starts, and he had a big breaking ball. When he was with us, he had no breaking ball. He had a slider, but it was very sub-par."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.