Bullpen dooms Nats in finale
Rivera, Colome combine to allow five runs in fateful sixth
WASHINGTON -- There was good news and bad news for the Nationals on Wednesday night. The good news was that after getting pounded the previous night, the Nationals found themselves in a tie game against the Tigers after five innings. The bad news was that Washington's bullpen couldn't contain Detroit, which won the contest, 8-4, in front of 26,637 fans at RFK Stadium.
The Tigers swept the three-game series, and the Nationals have lost five out of their last six games to drop their record to 30-42. In the three-game series, Detroit outscored Washington, 32-13.
On Wednesday, left-hander Mike Bacsik kept the Nats in the game during the first five innings, giving up three runs on six hits. When he left the game, the two teams were locked in a 3-3 tie.
"We had to make some adjustments with the game plan," Bacsik said. "We made the adjustments, but they still got the hits. I had to be more efficient. I was throwing way too many pitches. I would have liked to have done better and hold them to that first-inning run, but it didn't happen."
After Bacsik gave up a two-run home run to Carlos Guillen in the top of the fourth to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead, the Nationals had their only highlight of the night. They tied the score at 3 in the bottom of the inning. Dmitri Young and Ryan Church had RBI singles, and Austin Kearns scored on a wild pitch by right-hander Jeremy Bonderman after Brian Schneider struck out.
"Everything happened the way we wanted it to in the ballgame because we had our bullpen," manager Manny Acta said. "We wanted to throw our four best guys at them."
Right-handers Saul Rivera, Jesus Colome, Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero pitched in the game, but Rivera and Colome didn't get the job done as the Tigers scored five runs in the top of the sixth inning and never looked back.
Rivera was the first to appear in the game, but he was unable to retire a batter. He left with the bases loaded when Acta took him out in favor of Colome. Rivera walked two batters and gave up a single to Guillen before he left.
"Saul couldn't throw strikes," Acta said.
Colome quickly gave up an RBI single to Brandon Inge and then found himself battling against Omar Infante. It took 12 pitches before Infante singled to right field to drive in Guillen.
"I had to be strong," Colome said. "I threw a couple of breaking balls on the 3-2 count and he kept fouling it off. I said, 'Let me try to finish the guy with a fastball.' Every time I threw it, he hit it to the other side."
One batter later, Colome gave up a two-run single to Curtis Granderson. Colome also allowed an RBI groundout to Craig Monroe in the inning.
"The flood gates opened up after that," Schneider said. "Walks are going to kill you against this team."
The Nationals were able to score their last run of the game in the seventh inning, when Cristian Guzman drove in Schneider with an RBI single off Tim Byrdak.
For the second night in a row, Acta gave the Tigers nothing but praise.
"They are a great club," Acta said. "We were [outplayed]. What can I say? They have everything you want. We did the best we could. We battled in the first game, and today we battled again. They even beat up on our strength, which is our bullpen. They are a good team. We just got outplayed."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.