Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez is in search of his elusive 10th win tonight at Turner Field.
All of a sudden, what had been a really impressive season is looking only like a solid-though-unspectacular season. Livo deserves to have a better record than 9-11, but the fact remains he still hasn't hit double digits in that category yet.
Hernandez will get another crack at win No. 10 tonight against Jair Jurrjens and the Braves. Same lineup as last night, aside from Ivan Rodriguez back behind the plate.
Check back for updates throughout the evening...
NATIONALS at BRAVES
Where: Turner Field
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly sunny, 84 degrees, Wind 3 mph out to LF
2B Danny Espinosa
SS Ian Desmond
LF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
RF Michael Morse
CF Nyjer Morgan
C Ivan Rodriguez
P Livan Hernandez
2B Omar Infante
RF Jason Heyward
3B Martin Prado
C Brian McCann
1B Derrek Lee
CF Nate McLouth
SS Alex Gonzalez
LF Matt Diaz
P Jair Jurrjens
7:10 p.m. -- We're underway at Turner Field with a fastball from Jair Jurrjens to Danny Espinosa for strike one. Another gorgeous evening in Atlanta, 85 degrees at first pitch.
7:14 p.m. -- Jurrjens sure made that look easy. 1-2-3 in the top of the first. Espinosa fouled out to the catcher to lead things off. Since his two-homer, six-RBI game on September 6, he's gone 1-for-19 at the plate.
7:25 p.m. -- Typical Livo in the bottom of the first. And I mean that in a good sense. He did walk Jason Heyward but otherwise through slop up there and got the Braves' hitters to bite. Omar Infante tapped a comebacker. Martin Prado flied out to right. And Brian McCann, shortly after fouling off a 60-mph Bugs Bunny curveball, was caught looking at an 80-mph heater for strike three. We go to the second inning, no score.
7:33 p.m. -- There's a sign beyond the center-field concourse here that reads "460." As in, it's 460 feet from the plate to that spot. Well, Adam Dunn crushed a ball past that marker and deeper toward straightaway center field. Had to be at least 470-475 feet, which would rank among the longest home runs ever hit in this ballpark, according to the locals. More importantly, Dunn's 35th homer of the year came with Ryan Zimmerman on first base and gave the Nats a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
7:39 p.m. -- And now Livo ropes a double over Nate McLouth's head in center field to score Nyjer Morgan and put the Nats up 3-0. Amazingly, that was only Livo's second RBI of the season.
8:03 p.m. -- We've completed three innings now, the Nats still up 3-0. They threatened to add to the lead in the top of the third after Zimmerman and Dunn each singled with two outs. But Morse flied out to end that inning without anyone crossing the plate. Livo, meanwhile, worked his way out of a jam in the bottom of the third, getting Martin Prado to fly out to keep the shutout intact.
8:11 p.m. -- Home run for Livo! He entered tonight with one RBI. He now has two in two at-bats. Nats lead 4-0 in the fourth.
8:37 p.m. -- Check out the homepage for the Nationals' complete 2011 schedule, which was just announced. They open at home against the Braves on Thursday, March 31.
8:39 p.m. -- About that Livo home run: It was the first homer hit by a Nationals pitcher since Ramon Ortiz went deep on Labor Day 2006 in the bottom of the eighth inning while tossing a no-hitter. As Ramon would have said: "It's crazy, man!"
8:40 p.m. -- Meanwhile, the Nats still lead 4-0 after five innings as Livo continues to put together his best start in several weeks. Jurrjens is done for the Braves, replaced by lefty Eric O'Flaherty.
9:05 p.m. -- Seventh-inning stretch now, with the Nats ahead 5-0 thanks to Danny Espinosa's double, Ian Desmond's sac bunt and Roger Bernadina's sac fly in the top of this inning. Livo's back out for the bottom of the seventh sitting on 90 pitches. We'll see how far Jim Riggleman lets him go.
9:10 p.m. -- Eight-pitch innings certainly help your cause. Livo cruises through the seventh, he's now at 98 pitches with the shutout intact.
9:35 p.m. -- Ian Desmond clubs his 10th homer of the season, a solo shot to center. He becomes the 10th NL rookie to reach double digits in homers this season. Florida's Mike Stanton leads the way with 20. Roger Bernadina also has 10 for the Nats. It's now 6-0 with Livo poised to come back out for the ninth sitting on 118 pitches.
9:42 p.m. -- Oh, well. Sean Burnett's on to pitch the ninth. Livo's final line: 8 ip, 5 h, 0 r, 2 bb, 6 k, 1 hbp.
9:49 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. Nats win 6-0 for only their fifth shutout victory of the season. Livo improves to 10-11, plus he's the hitting star with a homer, a double and two RBI.