The Nationals’ second season in Washington isn’t going quite as well as their first.
The Nationals look to avoid their second six-game losing streak of the season when they continue a four-game series with the streaking St. Louis Cardinals on Friday at new Busch Stadium.
Washington had just two five-game losing streaks last season, its first after moving from Montreal, including a season-high six-game skid from July 24-30. This season, however, the Nationals lost six in a row from April 9-14, and dropped their fifth straight on Thursday with a 6-2 defeat in the series opener.
After the loss, manager Frank Robinson held a closed-door meeting for several minutes.
“It was a wake-up call,” center fielder Ryan Church said. “He told us to go out and enjoy it and do the right things. We’re not doing the right things.”
Brian Schneider doubled in two runs for the Nationals, who have been outscored 23-10 during their current losing streak. The hit snapped an 0-for-15 slump for Schneider.
Jim Edmonds hit a three-run homer in the first inning for the Cardinals, who have won four straight and 10 of 12. St. Louis has outscored its opponents 23-10 over its last four games and is 10-3 at new Busch, which opened this season.
Scott Spiezio added a two-run double in his third straight start at third base in place of Scott Rolen, who is out with bronchitis. Spiezio, who also tripled in the first, is 5-for-11 with a homer and four RBIs in place of Rolen.
“It’s nice to get some consecutive games, get those at-bats flowing,” Spiezio said. “I haven’t had a series like this in a long time.”
Jason Marquis (3-1, 3.55 ERA) will look to keep the Cardinals rolling on Friday. Marquis was charged with his first loss of the season on Sunday, allowing seven runs—four earned—and seven hits in six innings of a 7-3 defeat to Greg Maddux and the Chicago Cubs.
Marquis had allowed just six runs in 19 1-3 innings in his first three starts of the season, all victories.
“I didn’t make quality pitches when I needed to,” he said. “I got away from my game plan a little bit and didn’t stick with my strengths, and I got hurt.”
Tony Armas Jr. (1-2, 2.70) will take the mound for Washington. Armas threw 6 1-3 scoreless innings on Sunday, giving up just three singles, but did not receive a decision in the Nationals’ 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Still, the start was the strongest of the season for Armas, who had shoulder surgery in the offseason.
“Just having fun out there,” he said. “Not worrying about pain, anything.”
Armas has not allowed more than three runs in any of his four starts and has lasted at least six innings in his last three. He is 0-2 with a 5.75 ERA in four career starts against the Cardinals.
“It’s early in the season,” Armas said. “I’m just having fun out there. That’s the main thing now. l’m just going out there and pitching.”