John Patterson gave the Nationals exactly what they needed: eight innings of scoreless pitching. He was pretty near flawless, getting in trouble only in the fifth, when Patterson walked Rockies pitcher Shawn Chacon to load the bases with two out. But Patterson struck out Cory Sullivan to end the threat. From there it was easy for Patterson, who was thoroughly dominating once again, striking out eight, walking two, and facing only 29 batters over eight innings.
We said recently that Patterson needed to find a way to pitch deeper into games (http://nationalsinterest.blogspot.com/2005/07/chink-in-armor.html), and he did just that tonight. By pitching into the eighth inning, Patterson gave the bullpen a rest and handed the ball directly to the Nationals' most effective reliever--Chad Cordero--bypassing the relievers who have struggled recently. Patterson showed himself to be every bit of the number one starter we all think he can become.
The Nationals didn't need much scoring, but they got four runs anyway. Frank Robinson juggled the lineup, sitting Cristian Guzman and Vinny Castilla. As bad as Jamey Carroll is as a starter, he's better than Cristian Guzman, and he was 2-4 with a RBI. Carlos Baerga was Castilla's replacement, proving once and for all that the Nationals have a gaping hole at third base. Baerga was 1-3. It's hard to say much about the new Nationals order, because to tell the truth it didn't look that much different than before. Of course, not having to watch Guzman either flail away at a third strike or bunt into a double play was a welcome change.
This was a big win at a time when the Nationals badly needed one. And it was a big-time pitching performance by John Patterson, who is quickly becoming the Nationals most valuable starter.