08/29/07 9:27 PM ET
No happy ending as Nats fall in extras
Washington drops finale in 12th inning on Dodgers' sac fly
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
Wednesday's game against the Dodgers may have been worse. The Nationals blew an 8-3 lead and lost, 10-9, in 12 innings at Dodger Stadium.
The stats show that Washington right-hander Shawn Hill gave up seven runs -- six earned -- in 5 1/3 innings. It wasn't Hill's day, to say the least, as he had problems with his sinker. In fact, of the first eight batters Hill faced, seven of them managed to put the ball in the air. The biggest blow of the game came in the second inning, when Russell Martin hit a two-run homer to cut the Nationals' lead to 4-2.
"It took me awhile to wake up a little bit," Hill said. "It's something I need to prepare better for. I didn't have the energy that I would like to have had. I felt I didn't have a whole lot of zip today. I was fighting to get where I wanted to. It was basically a battle the whole day."
Still, entering the bottom of the sixth inning, Washington had an 8-3 lead, but shoddy defense made things turn ugly. Los Angeles had runners on first and second and one out when Martin hit a ground ball at Felipe Lopez, who bobbled the ball for an error and allowed the Dodgers to load the bases. It marked the third straight game that a miscue by Lopez hurt the Nationals.
"All it means is that I'm human, because I'm working [hard]," Lopez said.
Said Acta, "I don't see anything wrong, except that [Lopez] is not making the play. He is getting his work in. He is just not catching the ball. He has made some good plays out there, too. You can't point your finger at one guy. It's a team. We scored nine runs and didn't win the ballgame."
After the Lopez error, James Loney was the next hitter, and he hit the ball right at first baseman Robert Fick, but the ball took a bad hop and went into right field to score three runs, cutting the lead to 8-6.
"I went to go this way and then [the ball] hit something and hooked another way and hit something in the dirt," Fick said.
Reliever Luis Ayala entered the game, and he quickly allowed a two-run homer to Shea Hillenbrand to tie the score at 8.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Nationals took a 9-8 lead when D'Angelo Jimenez ripped a Joe Biemel pitch up the middle to score Austin Kearns.
Los Angeles, however, quickly tied the score at 9 as Ayala gave up a solo home run to Matt Kemp.
In the bottom of the 12th inning, with Saul Rivera on the mound, the Dodgers had the bases loaded with one out when Hillenbrand hit the ball to right field. Kearns caught the ball and tried to throw out Jeff Kent, but the throw was wide right and Kent just made it home to end the game.
"Whenever the Dodgers had an opportunity, it seemed like they got it done," Kearns said. "We had our opportunities, but we were hit and miss."
Washington is now on a six-game losing streak and its record fell to 58-76. After the game, Acta acknowledged that he plans to have a team meeting before Friday's game against the Giants. He decided not to talk to his troops after Wednesday's game, because he felt what he had to say could fall on deaf ears -- especially with the team readying for a long plane ride back to the nation's capital.
Instead, Acta was seen encouraging Rivera in the locker room. According to the right-hander, Acta said, "Keep fighting," and gave him a pat on the back.
"It has been a very long day and a very long road trip," Acta said about not having a team meeting immediately following Wednesday's game. "I think my words would go up in the air if I start talking right now. We'll just settle down, take the day off, come back home, sit down, regroup and talk it over."
Fick said that the team will respond to Acta once it gets home.
"We're fine. It all starts with Manny," Fick said. "His attitude has been so good the whole year. ... We just show up to play every day -- we play hard. We have shown that the whole year. We've come back from things like this before. It will be good to get home."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.