Jul 25, 2013, 5:13 AM EDT
The continued devolution of the Nationals nearly reached epic proportions Wednesday night when they entered the bottom of the sixth inning against Francisco Liriano without having recorded a base hit.
In the end, the events of the ninth inning in a 4-2 loss to the Pirates might actually have proved more painful than a no-hitter.
After squandering Stephen Strasburg’s best start of the season and watching as relievers Drew Storen and Fernando Abad turned a 1-run deficit into a 4-run chasm in the top of the ninth, the Nationals nearly stormed all the way back in the bottom of the inning, only to see the game end on a blown call by umpire Laz Diaz.
“It’s no secret that the ball definitely isn’t bouncing our way,” said Denard Span, who hit the groundball that resulted in the controversial, game-ending double play. “That wasn’t the story of the game tonight, but anything could’ve happened if that play isn’t called there.”
Who knows what would have happened had Diaz correctly seen Wilson Ramos elude second baseman Neil Walker’s tag on the final play of the game? The Nationals still would have trailed by two runs, with one out and two men on base. But it was a fittingly bitter way for this club’s sixth straight loss to go in the books.
“Not even close. He never tagged me,” Ramos said. “He told me: ‘He tagged you. I didn’t hear, but I saw it.’ I said: ‘Sure, you didn’t see anything. Not even close.’ But I don’t know, maybe he wanted to go home.”
NL EAST STANDINGS
x-Clinched division title
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.
WED: 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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