Seven hits, four walks, and five runs. That's a far cry from the Esteban Loaiza who looked so good for much of the season. Loaiza was pedestrian or worse today as he dug a deep hole for the Nationals, giving up three runs in the first and two in the fifth. Three runs tends to be a tough deficit for the Nationals; five tends to be insurmountable. Frank Robinson can't pull a starter in the third inning every time he gets in trouble, but Loaiza sure looked like he didn't have his best stuff today.
The offense was good enough to tie the game 3-3 in the top of the fifth. There was, of course, the obligatory blown opportunity. In the bottom of the first the Nationals had the bases loaded with only one out. Having already scored one run, this was a great opportunity for a big inning. Forget the big inning, all the Nationals needed was a fly ball to score one more run. Unfortunately, the Nationals have two guys in their lineup named Preston Wilson and Vinny Castilla, and both of them came up with the bases loaded. Wilson popped out to the shortstop, and Castilla grounded out to the pitcher. That, dear readers, is called a pathetic display of hitting.
Two more runs would have been nice, especially since the Braves scored two runs after the Nats tied it in the top of the fifth. With one out, Ryan Langerhans doubled, Marcus Giles walked, and Chipper Jones singled to load the bases. This would have been a good time to pull Loaiza, but Frank Robinson had other ideas. Andruw Jones, who homered in the first, singled to score two. Loaiza made the long walk to the dugout, but it was too late. It was 5-3, and the Nats were done.
The lesson here is that the Nats can't afford to give up five runs and expect to win the game. Let's hope that Livan Hernandez does better in the second game. We really can't afford another loss tonight.