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AZ 4, Nationals 5 - Sigh. Here we go again...

Record: 68-77. Change on last season: +3
Rookies in starting lineup: 3

This is becoming uncanny. The Diamondbacks have run their record to 0-5 against Washington this season, losing the five games by a total of six runs. In these contests, Arizona had the lead and blew it during all of them, in the ninth, eighth, eighth, seventh and sixth innings. I suppose this counts as progress of some sort, in that they're not leaving things late, before yanking the carpet out from underneath us fans. If this was a great team, I could appreciate why, but this is the Nationals. You know how mediocre we've been this year? They're five games worse.

We took the lead in the second, the three rookies (Melvin, please note) scoring three runs, to give Batista a nice, early cushion. Jackson singled; Quentin was hit by a pitch (the 7th time in his brief career, tying him with Luis Gonzalez this season - Q needs just one more to enter the top ten in franchise history!); and Drew brought them both home with a triple, which he thought was a homer. He scored anyway, as Batista then added a sacrifice fly, and it was 3-0. The Nationals made it a one-run game in the fourth, on a two-run homer (the first hit Batista had allowed), but Hudson's homer in the next frame doubled our lead again.

However, that ended our scoring, and the lead left for good in the sixth, on a walk, a single, a groundout and the first of three Diamondbacks' errors, as Batista first fell over, then threw the ball away. He redeemed himself slightly, getting out of a subsequent first-and-third, one out jam, by picking off a runner and striking out the hitter, but the damage had been done. Miggy was "not available for comment" after the game, even though he ended up with yet another no-decision.

The eighth saw a combination of two hits off Pena and two more errors, by Hudson and Estrada, which gave the Nationals the lead. Said Hudson, "That's another error I made that cost us a game. That's probably about the fifth or sixth error I've had that cost us the game." Not sure it's quite as many; however, that was his 12th overall, the most by an Arizona second-baseman since Junior Spivey's 15 in 2002. Good job Hudson's bat has woken up, since his defense has not been that of a reigning Gold Glover. But I think Estrada should be more ashamed. He lobbed the ball over Pena's head on a simple toss back to the mound, that allowed the runner to advance. Cue the Benny Hill theme.

"Interesting" play in the bottom of the fourth - using our new definition of "interesting" as "chaotic and fraught", that is. :-( With men on the corners and one out, Batista tried to bunt, but popped it up. Rather than snag it, their catcher let it drop, then threw to second for the force. And because Batista was standing there, watching, like a (and there's not really any other words for it) useless tool, the Nationals completed the double-play. That was almost Luis Terrero-like in its cluelessness, and according to Frank Robinson, "That was the play of the game." For its amusement value in the Nationals' dugout, certainly.

Thanks to William K, VIII, azdb7 and icecoldmo for their thoughts, as the Nationals - unlike us - proved capable of holding their lead through the last two innings, and ran their record against Arizona since 2004 to 15-2. Given their record against everyone else in that time is 196-256, there's clearly something at work. Whatever it is, is presumably the same problem we have facing our expansion brothers in Tampa Bay, who seem equally unstoppable when they face Arizona. As noted before though, this year we have had immense problems against all of the NL East: our record there is now 10-21, with only the Cubs having a lower winning percentage in the league.

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Today: Just another one-run, late-inning loss to the Nats

Better news from the minor-league playoffs, where both Tucson and Missoula won the opening games of their championship series. The Sidewinders rallied late against the Round Rock Express to win 3-1, scoring three unearned runs in the eighth to overturn a 1-0 deficit. Both starting pitchers were excellent: Tucson's Micah Owings allowed one run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings, but got a no-decision, while Round Rock's Jared Gothreaux took a no-hitter into the bottom of the seventh, until Brian Barden broke it up. Brito singled to lead off the eighth; Gonzalez and Perez tried to sacrifice, but consecutive errors allowed both to reach, loading the bases. Two outs later, Hairston walked in the tying run, and Chris Carter followed with a two-run single on a 2-2 count. The two teams meet up again tonight in Tucson.

Meanwhile, the Missoula Osprey baseball team beat the Idaho Falls Chukars 4-0 in Game 1 of the Pioneer League Championship Series. Starter Tony Barnette threw eight shutout innings, allowing three hits while walking none and fanning six - he retired the first seventeen hitters he faced. Missoula only had four hits, and just like Tucson, none of Missoula's runs were earned, as the Chukars made four errors. [What are the odds of seven runs in two games, all being unearned?] A two-run double by LF Daniel Perales was the Osprey's biggest blow. The best-of-three series now shifts to Idaho Falls for the remaining games, with the next contest scheduled for Thursday.