Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Winners of two straight, the Nats go for a sweep over the Padres tonight.
After back-to-back, one-run victories the last two nights, the Nats have a shot to make it three in row tonight at Nationals Park. Given all that's happened around here the last couple weeks, that would be quite the positive development.
It won't be easy. The Padres send a really talented right-hander to the mound in Mat Latos, who was born in Alexandria and apparently still has friends and family who live in Northern Virginia who will be on hand tonight. Luis Atilano will have to be in top form, and the Nats' lineup will have to continue what it's done the last two nights.
Check back for updates before, during and after the game...
PADRES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 90 degrees, Wind 10 mph RF to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
RF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Adam Kennedy
SS Ian Desmond
P Luis Atilano
2B Jerry Hairston Jr.
3B Chase Headley
1B Adrian Gonzalez
LF Scott Hairston
C Yorvit Torrealba
RF Aaron Cunningham
CF Chris Denorfia
SS Everth Cabrera
P Mat Latos
7:06 p.m. -- We're underway with a strike from Luis Atilano to Jerry Hairston. It's actually somewhat tolerable here tonight. Gametime temperature is 86 degrees.
7:15 p.m. -- Not a good start to the night for Atilano, who after retiring Hairston put four straight men on base. But he escaped with only one run scoring, thanks to a nifty 1-6-3 double play on Aaron Cunningham's comebacker. Interesting decision by Jim Riggleman to intentionally walk Adrian Gonzalez with one out and a man on second in the first inning. Can't say I blame him for doing it, the way Gonzalez has killed the Nats this series and considering the lack of punch elsewhere in the Padres' lineup. Nats trail 1-0.
7:25 p.m. -- Nothing doing for the Nationals in the bottom of the first, aside from a two-out single from Ryan Zimmerman -- who found out at 6 p.m. he lost to Joey Votto in the "Final Man" All-Star vote. Latos looked sharp in striking out both Roger Bernadina and Adam Dunn, though. Atilano, meanwhile, bounced back with a 1-2-3 second, so it remains 1-0 Padres in the bottom of the second.
8:03 p.m. -- Chris Denorfia had zero homers in his first 95 at-bats this season. Well, he's now hit two in his last three. After blasting one out as a pinch-hitter last night, the backup outfielder just crushed Atilano's first-pitch fastball to left for his second homer of the season. It was a fat, 88-mph pitch from Atilano, well up in the zone, and Denorfia made him pay for it. Padres now lead 2-0 in the top of the fourth.
8:06 p.m. -- Giving up a homer to Denorfia on a fat, first-pitch fastball? Bad. Giving up a homer to Mat Latos on another fat, first-pitch fastball moments later? Really bad. That's the first homer of Latos' career, and just like that the Padres lead 3-0 and Atilano looks really shaky.
8:26 p.m. -- Pretty feeble offensive showing so far from the Nationals, who have amassed all of two singles and two walks against Latos through five innings. Six strikeouts so far, nothing resembling an actual rally. Certainly a stark contrast to the last two nights, when the Nats stormed out of the gates and pounced on San Diego's starters.
8:35 p.m. -- That'll do it for Atilano, who departs after 5 1/3 labored innings, having allowed four runs on eight hits. Miguel Batista has come out of the bullpen, which is not usually an encouraging sign for the Nationals. Their record in games Batista pitches: 7-24. Seeing how they're currently down 4-0 in the sixth, I can't say I like their chances of pulling this one out tonight.
8:50 p.m. -- This is getting ugly. Chase Headley just launched a two-run homer off Batista to make it 6-0 in the seventh.
9:00 p.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 17,364.
9:19 p.m. -- Breaking news! No, not LeBron James' decision. The Nats have scored! Adam Dunn, in danger of collecting a golden sombrero 24 hours after his home-run hat trick, sends an RBI single to left to score Roger Bernadina and cut the lead to 6-1 in the eighth.
9:30 p.m. -- LeBron James is going to Miami, and Jerry Hairston has just clubbed the Padres' fourth homer of the night. 7-1 Padres.
9:39 p.m. -- If anyone's still paying attention, this game is over. The Nats have lost, 7-1. Atilano falls to 6-6. His ERA is now 4.85.