Jul 17, 2011, 10:52 PM EDT
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
NL EAST STANDINGS
x-Clinched division title
WED: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
THU: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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