Nats beat Diamondbacks 5-0, end 6-game skid
It was about time.
Flores hit a three-run, pinch-hit homer, Lannan threw six scoreless innings and the Nationals broke a six-game losing streak Wednesday night with a 5-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“It’s great to end the losing streak,” Lannan said.
Especially given that Lannan (5-9) had been receiving the worst run support in the majors. He had allowed three or fewer runs in seven of his previous eight outings without a victory to show for it.
Lannan allowed two hits and walked three on Wednesday for his first win since May 18, even though he felt his effort was very ordinary.
“I didn’t have anything really,” Lannan said. “I was making some pitches that could have went either way. I had to make pitches in the right situations, and I got double plays. I went out there and battled without my best stuff.”
The loss dropped first-place Arizona (45-46) back below .500 and denied the Diamondbacks their first three-game winning streak in nearly two months.
Like Lannan, Arizona starter Micah Owings (6-8) didn’t have his best stuff. Unlike Lannan, Owings failed to bail himself out because he was so wild. Back after missing his last start with an injured gluteus muscle, he hit three batters and walked five over 5 2-3 innings.
“I don’t have any answers for how I felt,” Owings said. “I wasn’t sharp.”
The real damage was done after Owings was replaced by Connor Robertson in the sixth. With the score 1-0 and runners on first and second, Robertson allowed a two-out RBI double to Kory Casto and Flores’ three-run shot into the visitor’s bullpen in left center.
The homer was Flores’ fifth of the season and the first as a pinch-hitter in his career. It was also his first extra-base hit since a home run on June 14. Manager Manny Acta had been resting Flores more in recent games because of the struggles at the plate.
“Manny gave the opportunity to pinch hit. He still believes in me, and I can feel that confidence,” Flores said. “Tonight I had a good pitch to hit, and I hit it out of the park.”
The game pitted the two worst hitting teams in the National League as well as two pitchers without a victory in their last 14 combined starts. On Tuesday, the teams played a 2-0 game in which neither run was earned.
The product, therefore, was mind-numbing, at least until Flores’ homer. The teams combined for nine walks, three hit batters and six double plays. For the first five innings, the game almost deserved to be rained out, but somehow the dark and stormy clouds that virtually surrounded Nationals Park managed to dump their rain elsewhere.
The Diamondbacks didn’t get a runner past first base for the entire game.
“It’s pretty frustrating,” manager Bob Melvin said. “All our guys are frustrated.”
Owings was already among the league leaders in hit batsmen entering the game, and three more shot him to the top of the chart. He grazed Ronnie Belliard’s jersey and then plunked Paul Lo Duca just above the left knee to load the bases in the second inning. He then walked Casto, the No. 8 hitter, to force in the game’s first run.
“You can’t think about it too much,” Owings said, “because you’ve still got to approach guys and go at guys like you would.”
The Nationals are awaiting word on whether LHP Odalis Perez will be fined or suspended for his outburst against umpire Angel Hernandez. Perez called Hernandez “stupid and (an) idiot” after the umpire called two balks on him in Tuesday night’s 2-0 loss to the Diamondbacks. Fans booed when Hernandez was introduced before Wednesday’s game. … The Nationals moved RHP Chad Cordero (shoulder) from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. … Diamondbacks OF Justin Upton was scratched from the lineup after straining a rib cage muscle during batting practice. He is day-to-day. … Casto got his first career stolen base in the eighth.