Nationals’ Struggles Continue in 4-3 Loss to Twins
WASHINGTON — Washington manager Davey Johnson is frustrated.
The Nationals’ offense continues to struggle and, as mid-June approaches, it’s getting harder and harder to say it’s still early.
On Saturday Ryan Doumit singled in the go-ahead run off reliever Craig Stammen, Joe Mauer homered, doubled and singled, and the Minnesota Twins defeated the Nationals 4-3 in 11 innings.
Jayson Werth homered and former Twin Denard Span added three hits for Washington, which has lost two straight and six of eight. They’ve scored three runs or less in seven straight games.
“It’s very frustrating,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said. “It’s getting my dander up. We’re better than this. We just haven’t done the things . and it seems like when we play like this we just look like we’re lackadaisical. This was tough.”
Johnson acknowledged time is becoming a factor. Washington began play Saturday in third place, seven games behind Atlanta in the NL East.
“We need to pick it up. It’s getting late,” Johnson said.
The Nationals collected 10 hits off six Minnesota pitchers, but went just 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
“We got some hits, but didn’t string them together,” Adam LaRoche said. “We need to start getting three and four in an inning, pushing some guys across.”
The Nationals rallied from a 3-2 deficit to tie the score in the seventh as Washington relievers strung together four scoreless innings.
But in the 11th, pinch hitter Chris Hermann led off with a walk against Stammen (3-2), Washington’s eighth pitcher.
“Unfortunately these last couple times out he’s been doing that. He’s been wild,” Johnson said of his right-hander.
Jamey Carroll bunted Hermann to second and Mauer was intentionally walked. Doumit then hit a soft line drive to short center, scoring Hermann.
Doumit has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games, batting .319 (15 for 47).
The Twins, who were playing their first game in Washington since 1971, have won eight of 11.
Josh Roenicke (2-1) pitched a scoreless 10th inning for the win and Glen Perkins retired Washington in the 11th for his 13th save.
The Nationals tied it against Twins starter Kevin Correia in the seventh.
Anthony Rendon led off with a single and was bunted to second. Kurt Suzuki hit a high bouncer that shortstop Pedro Florimon charged, but he was unable to come up with it and Rendon scored while Suzuki raced to second with a double as the ball rolled into left field.
Correia pitched 6 1-3 innings, allowing three earned runs on eight hits. He struck out a season-high seven and didn’t walk a batter.
Mauer broke a 2-2 tie when he hit a solo homer off Washington starter Gio Gonzalez with one out in the fifth.
Gonzalez gave up three runs, two earned, on five hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out seven. He’s winless in his last six starts despite allowing more than two earned runs only once during that stretch.
“These guys swing the bat really good,” Gonzalez said. “I’m happy with our lineup. We’ve got such a powerful lineup. We’re going to find the hits and take off from there.”
The Nationals broke on top in the third. Span singled with two outs and Werth lined a 1-2 pitch from Correia over the wall for his fifth home run.
Minnesota came back with two in the fourth. After Josh Willingham singled off Ryan Zimmerman’s glove, Justin Morneau hit a smash toward first that got by LaRoche. Willingham scored from first as the ball rolled to the right-field corner.
“I didn’t make the play. I gave them that one, cost us the game,” LaRoche said. “So that one’s on me.”
Morneau ended up on second on the error and, after Aaron Hicks walked, scored when Brian Dozier singled past a diving Zimmerman.
NOTES: The Twins last played in Washington on July 19, 1971, when they lost 5-2 to the Senators. The Minnesota franchise began play in 1901 as the original Washington Senators and left D.C. after the 1960 season. … Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (right lat strain) threw a bullpen session Saturday. Manager Davey Johnson said Strasburg had no symptoms from the injury and is on track to throw a simulated game Tuesday in Colorado and start at Cleveland on June 16. … Johnson said OF Bryce Harper (bursitis) reported the swelling in his left knee was down. Harper will see Dr. James Andrews on Monday for a second opinion on the ailing knee. … The Nationals’ Ian Desmond extended his hitting streak to 10 games. … LHP Scott Diamond (4-4, 4.66) will start the opener of Sunday’s day-night doubleheader for the Twins against RHP Jordan Zimmerman (8-3, 2.16). In the night game, a makeup of Friday’s rainout, Minnesota’s RHP Samuel Deduno (2-1, 3.44) will go against RHP Nate Karns (0-1, 6.00).
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