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Clippard may be losing hold on Nats closer job

The SportsXchange

Manager Davey Johnson said before Friday's opener against the Milwaukee Brewers that there was no closer

controversy.

That could change following the Brewers' dramatic comeback in the ninth inning, scoring three runs off

struggling right-hander Tyler Clippard, and winning, 4-2. Clippard gave up three hits in the first four

batters faced, and the inning included a passed ball, a wild pitch and a fielding error by Ian Desmond that

allowed the fourth run to score.

Johnson said he before the game he would like right-hander Drew Storen and Clippard to both get chances

to close in the season's final weeks before the postseason. Storen has come on strong recently and Clippard

has been hit hard, leading some to believe that Storen would get back his job as closer from last season.

"Depending on the rest situation and depending on the matchups, either one of them could be going in the

eighth, the other one in the ninth," Johnson said. "They are still my late-inning guys and both of them are

great closers, so I will mix and match."

But Friday certainly was not what Clippard wanted, he left a few pitches up and the Brewers hit him.

Clippard has now allowed eight runs in his last seven outings. Contrast that with Storen, who has not

surrendered an earned run in his last 10 appearances, including striking out the side Thursday night to

clinch a playoff berth in saving the 4-1 win over the Dodgers.

Johnson said despite Clippard's recent issues, he won't switch Storen back to closer. He will still mix

them in base on matchups.

"He will be fine, that one just got away," Johnson said. "It was one battle. He has been awfully good."

On Saturday, however, Johnson confirmed Clippard will have the day off and Storen will pitch if needed.

For Clippard, he said it is never easy to deal with failure.

"Obviously, we are in a pennant race," Clippard said. "Tonight, would have been a big win for us. And

that makes it hurt even worse."

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