Nats outslugged by Jays in finale
Starter Martis struggles early in a short outing
WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Shairon Martis had one of his worst outings of the season as the Nationals lost to the Blue Jays, 9-4, on Sunday afternoon. The loss snapped Washington's four-game winning streak.
During the winning streak, the ERA of the Nationals' pitching staff was 1.31. But the hurlers received a quick reminder that they have to make pitches when it counts. Martis didn't do that on Sunday. It didn't help that his velocity was down and his pitches were up in the strike zone.
It was clear from the start that Martis didn't have his best stuff, throwing 38 pitches and accounting for four runs in the first inning.
After getting two quick outs, thanks to a double-play ball hit by Aaron Hill, Martis was unable to retire the next five hitters. Alex Rios and Lyle Overbay both drove in two runs with a double and single, respectively.
In the second inning, Martis gave up another run when Vernon Wells doubled near the left-field line to drive in Marco Scutaro.
Martis lasted five innings and gave up six runs on eight hits.
"As a staff, we need to look at this week and be encouraged by it, but today was a reminder that every pitch has to be executed," catcher Josh Bard said. "[Martis] was struggling with his location, but he battled and [fought through] some [innings]. If he doesn't make it through the first couple of innings, we are in some serious trouble right there."
Martis wasn't the only Washington pitcher who struggled. Reliever Joel Hanrahan gave up three runs in the ninth inning, all with two outs. Overbay, who drove in five runs, highlighted the scoring with a two-run single.
"With two outs, nobody on, [Hanrahan] puts guys on base and he is behind in the count," manager Manny Acta said. "You just can't do that up here. He just has to be more consistent for us."
Hanrahan said it felt like he had mechanical issues on the mound. He is going to review tape on Tuesday to see what the problem is.
"I'm going to look at more video," Hanrahan said. "Obviously, I don't want to look at it right now. Like I said, it might not be anything. I just kind of felt that my mechanics were off. If there is something, I'll work on it on Tuesday."
Acta was more concerned about Washington's offense. The team left 10 runners on base and squandered its share of opportunities.
The Nationals were able to cut the lead against lefty Ricky Romero in the second inning. Bard singled off the glove of Hill at second base as two runs scored on the play with no outs. But Washington couldn't do anything more against Romero.
After Martis advanced Bard to third on a sacrifice bunt, Cristian Guzman struck out and Nick Johnson grounded out to end the inning.
The other golden opportunity came in the fifth. The Nationals had the bases loaded with one out, but Alberto Gonzalez hit into a double play to end the inning. Romero lasted seven innings and gave up two runs on eight hits.
The Nationals added two more runs in the ninth inning against Jays reliever Jesse Carlson, but it was too little, too late.
"The whole week, we were carried by our pitching and our defense," Acta said. "We need our hitting to come around. If you look at the board, we had 12 hits. That is not offense. Hits don't win ballgames. Hits with runners in scoring position win ballgames, and we haven't been able to do that lately.
"We can't expect our pitching to be as good as it has been the last week. Hopefully, these guys will recharge their batteries and our offense will come alive."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.