Jul 17, 2011, 10:52 PM EST
Associated Press photo
Sean Burnett reacts after giving up a three-run homer in the fifth inning.
ATLANTA — Presented an opportunity to take a series from the wild-card-leading Braves and gain a little ground in the standings, the Nationals instead squandered it, losing 9-8 Sunday afternoon when rookie Ryan Mattheus allowed a walk-off single to Freddie Freeman.
Really, though, this game was lost the moment Tom Gorzelanny had to depart before the bottom of the third, having sprained his ankle trying to bowl over catcher Brian McCann in a rare baserunning adventure for the Nationals starter.
From that moment on, manager Davey Johnson was forced to max out his bullpen, asking four relievers to churn out seven quality innings of work.
The end result was perhaps all too predictable. All four relievers were scored upon, two of them serving up titanic homers that tied the game and deflated the Nationals’ dugout.
“I used about everybody,” Johnson said. “I went as far as I could.”
Making matters worse, Johnson didn’t have his designated long reliever available. Normally, a situation like this would scream for that
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2013 schedule (subject to change)...
TUE: 12:45 p.m., 4:30 p.m.
WED: 2:30 p.m.
THU: 4:30 p.m.
FRI: 12:45 p.m., 2:30 p.m.
SAT: 9:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com.
- Wilson, Blevins among Nationals trade targets
- Rizzo: Nats aren't trading Clippard, Storen, Span
- 6 weeks into MLB offseason and free agents are going fast
- Williams on Harper, Strasburg and more
- Nats GM Mike Rizzo on lefty reliever market (VIDEO)
- Nationals' asking price high on Storen, Clippard
- Phillies willing to trade Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee
- Nats expect McLouth to get significant playing time
- Nats believe Ramos can catch 125 games
- Nationals in no rush to acquire left-hander