May 6, 2010, 3:41 AM EST
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Luis Atilano labored from the start, setting the tone for the Nats' 7-6 loss.
Three times in their last 10 games the Nationals have lost in extra innings, all by one run. These are the losses that sting a little deeper, linger a little longer.
So excuse the Nats for feeling like they let another one slip away tonight, this 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Braves that could have easily gone the other way.
"Losing's losing, but when you lose and you came back and fought and kind of scratched and clawed, it hurts a little bit," Josh Willingham said. "But we'll be fine tomorrow. You've got to have a quick turnaround."
Willingham provided the most inspiring moment of the evening for the 15,616 at Nationals Park, delivering a pinch-hit, two-run single in the eighth to tie the game and ultimately send it to extra innings. But his insertion into the game by Jim Riggleman also played a role in the manager's strategy two innings later when this one was decided.
Fast-forward to the bottom of the 10th, the Nationals now trailing by a run after Matt Capps allowed his first run in 10 appearances. When Cristian Guzman led off against Braves closer Billy Wagner with a base hit up the middle, the table was set for either a game-tying or a game-winning rally.
Riggleman just had to decide which way to play it: Go for the tie, or go for the win. He chose to go for the win, opening himself up to some mild second-guessing when that plan failed.
Rather than have Ian Desmond bunt Guzman over to second, putting a runner in scoring position with one out, Riggleman instead let his rookie shortstop swing away. Desmond sent a fly ball to right field for the first out. Backup catcher Wil Nieves, summoned to pinch-hit forRead more »
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