Nationals 3, Braves 2
WASHINGTON (AP)—Despite a series of missteps in the field, at the plate and on the basepaths, the Washington Nationals were clinging to a one-run lead against the Atlanta Braves in the seventh inning when Brian Jordan hit a shot to left field.
Carried by the wind, the ball drifted toward the corner. Nationals outfielder Marlon Byrd, in foul territory, leaped for the ball, which dropped over the wall, just beyond his glove. A home run, tying the game at 2, or a simple foul?
Third-base umpire Jerry Layne thought it was a homer, prompting a lot of jumping and arm-waving by Nationals relievers in the nearby home bullpen, and drawing Washington manager Frank Robinson out of the dugout. Crew chief Ed Montague, who was umpiring at second base, thought it was foul and changed the call. That drew an argument from Braves manager Bobby Cox, to no avail.
Jordan returned to the plate, grounded out on the next pitch, and after each team later tacked on a run, the Nationals had a 3-2 victory over the Braves on Monday.
“Nobody seemed like they saw it, and it’s a shame. We compete so hard and that changes the whole ballgame,” Jordan said. “It’s a 2-2 ballgame, and they took it away from us.”
Washington, which has won two straight after a five-game losing streak dropped it below .500, seemingly tried its best to hand over the game. But the Nationals overcame one error and two other fumbles in the field, two runners caught stealing, another runner thrown out at home, and their seventh consecutive game scoring three runs or fewer.
“Jerry went out on the ball. He kind of lost it when it got up,” Montague said. “Coming over from second base, I don’t have it hitting the pole. I still don’t have it hitting the pole. The ball came straight down, and I’ve got it on the other side of the pole.”
TV replays appeared to show the ball hit the black base of the foul pole, and Nationals closer Chad Cordero said the ball had a mark on it. So how did Robinson persuade the umpires to change the call?
“I didn’t argue. I reasoned with (Layne),” Robinson said. “I just asked him if he would get another opinion.”
And did the manager get a view of a replay?
“I didn’t see anything. I’m not looking for it. I won’t even watch ‘SportsCenter’ tonight,” he said with a smile.
Cox said members of the Braves who saw a replay in the clubhouse came running into the dugout, yelling, “It’s fair!”
The umpires “missed it. What are you going to do, shoot ‘em? You can’t,” Cox said. “They made a call, and it’s too bad, because they had it right. The guy that was supposed to call it had it right.”
Cox said he thought Montague might have been swayed by the animated Nationals relievers.
“Bullpens are supposed to react that way on balls down the line,” he said. “We teach them to do that.”
In the end, Jordan was sent back to the plate with a 1-2 count. After getting thrown out by Ohka, Jordan threw his batting helmet from near first base to the dugout, drawing jeers from the crowd of 39,705.
Ohka then got pinch-hitter Pete Orr to fly out, finishing up another strong outing. The right-hander was 1-3 with a 5.85 ERA after going just three innings in a loss to the Mets on April 23. Since then, including a banishment to the bullpen, he’s won three straight decisions and lowered his ERA to 3.20.
Byrd hit his run-scoring doubles in the fourth and sixth off starter Kyle Davies (2-1), who gave up two runs and seven hits over 5 1-3 innings. Brad Wilkerson hit his major league-leading 22nd double and came home on Guillen’s single in the seventh off Roman Colon, making it 3-1.
Since coming over from the Phillies in a May 14 trade, Byrd is hitting .371 with eight RBIs. He credited hitting coach Tom McCraw with helping smooth out his stroke and Robinson with providing a mental boost.
Robinson, Byrd said, has “shown that he has confidence in me. … Hopefully I can keep producing.”
The Nationals needed him to on a day that the Braves took a 1-0 lead in the third thanks to Vinny Castilla’s error on what looked to be a double-play grounder. Second baseman Jamey Carroll also failed to make a play on a grounder in that inning, though it was ruled a single, and fumbled another ball later but managed to get an out.
The Nationals took RHP John Patterson off the DL (back spasms) so he can start Tuesday. They also activated INF Wil Cordero, and sent OF Tyrell Godwin and INF Brendan Harris to Triple-A New Orleans. … Nationals C Brian Schneider was lifted for a pinch-hitter after getting hit on his left hand by Marcus Giles’ backswing.