The Washington Nationals have gone from a team that never lost close games to one that has forgotten how to win one.
The Nationals will try to take some of the pressure off themselves by scoring a bunch of runs when they continue their series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Washington really needs a couple days of hot hitting because its confidence in one-run games is shot. The Nationals, who led the NL East by 5 1/2 games on July 2, improved to 24-8 in one-run games with an 8-7 victory over Philadelphia on July 8.
However, they have since lost 11 straight games decided by a run, including a 5-4 defeat on Tuesday. The loss, coupled with Atlanta’s win over Cincinnati on Tuesday, dropped the Nationals 5 1/2 games behind the Braves in the division.
The Nationals, who also trail Houston by two games in the race for the wild card, are the only team in major league history to win 12 straight one-run games and lose 11 straight by a run in the same season.
“When you’re winning those games, it has a positive effect on you,” manager Frank Robinson said. “When you’re losing those games, it has a negative effect.”
Brad Wilkerson tripled in a pair of runs on Tuesday for the Nationals, who have lost seven of eight overall. Washington has not scored more than four runs in any of its last 15 games, 12 of which have been losses.
Washington went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base on Tuesday. Seven of its nine hits were singles.
“It always seems to come back and get us at the end when we don’t take advantage of those opportunities early in the game,” Wilkerson said. “We’ve been doing that a lot lately.”
Jeff Kent, Jason Phillips, Jason Repko and pinch-hitter Hee-Seop Choi all homered for the Dodgers, who had lost two straight and four of five. Los Angeles became the first visiting team to hit more than two homers at RFK, where a total of just 52 had been hit in 50 games heading into Tuesday.
The Dodgers’ four homers matched their season high.
“That’s a lot of home runs hit in this ballpark. That’s kind of strange,” Nationals second baseman Jose Vidro said. “One run short. It is frustrating every time now. We’re looking like we’re down the stretch now. We can’t afford to keep losing. We’ve got to find a way.”