WASHINGTON -- Tired of being victimized by poor run support, Esteban Loaiza took matters into his own hands.
Loaiza hit a two-run double and pitched six shutout innings, to lead the Washington Nationals, with President Bush in attendance, to a 3-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night, their 11th straight win at home.
Loaiza (3-5) allowed six hits, walked one and struck out five, combining with three relievers on the Nationals' fourth shutout of the season. He was pitching for the first time since being scratched from a scheduled start against Texas on Sunday because of a sore neck.
"I'm glad we had his bat in the lineup tonight," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said.
After watching the Nationals score 37 runs in his three losses and nine no-decisions, Loaiza was an unlikely source of offense. In Loaiza's three wins, Washington has scored 16 runs.
"I wanted to go out and put zeros up on the board," Loaiza said. "I've been struggling a little bit. Today with the bat, my double was outstanding, too."
Brad Wilkerson homered for the Nationals, whose 25 home victories are the most in the National League. Washington won for the 13th time in 14 games at RFK Stadium and improved to 2-0 with the president present.
"It's not a lot of runs," Wilkerson said, "but it was enough to get (Loaiza) the W."
Luis Ayala pitched 1 2/3 innings -- working out of a two-on jam in the seventh -- and Chad Cordero worked the ninth for his major league-leading 24th save.
The Nationals are two games shy of matching the franchise-record home winning streak set by the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium from Aug. 28-Sept. 15, 1979. Washington (43-30) moved to a season-high 13 games over .500.
Josh Towers (5-7) lost his sixth straight decision for the Blue Jays, who had won three of four.
Bush took in the Nationals' first game at RFK Stadium after a nine-game road trip. He was joined by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, brother Marvin Bush and the president's nominee as U.S. ambassador to France, Craig Stapleton -- a Bush cousin by marriage. They sat in the front row of an open, mezzanine-level box along the third-base line.
"I didn't even know he was there until (catcher Brian) Schneider told me in the fourth inning. ... I looked up and he was up there. It's really exciting," Loaiza said.
It was the president's second visit to RFK Stadium for a baseball game this year. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the team's home opener April 14 and watched several innings of Washington's win over Arizona.
Bush had to be impressed with Loaiza, who staked himself to a 2-0 lead in the second, recording his first RBI since June 2, 1998 for Pittsburgh in an interleague game against Detroit.
Vinny Castilla and Junior Spivey singled, and with two outs, Loaiza dropped a two-run double inside the left-field line.
"That's the game right there. I don't care who you are, but you just don't get beat by a pitcher," Towers said. "No offense to Loaiza, but you just don't give up a double to the pitcher with two out."
Robinson thought Towers, who got beat on a slider, didn't concentrate enough on the Nationals' pitcher.
"I was going to take," Loaiza said. "But after looking at the outfield, ... I thought he was going to come with a first-pitch strike and I swung and made contact."
Loaiza batted with two runners on again in the fourth. With two outs, Schneider doubled and Towers intentionally walked Cristian Guzman to face Loaiza, who struck out swinging.
In the sixth, the right-hander also worked out of a two-on, none-out jam, getting a popup, a called third strike and a groundout to end the threat.
Towers went six innings, allowing two runs and eight hits. He walked one and struck out five.
Wilkerson led off the seventh with his fifth homer, a shot to right off reliever Justin Speier.
Toronto OF Vernon Wells had his team-high 23rd multihit game. ... Loaiza has gone at least six innings in 12 of his 15 starts. His last multiple-RBI game was May 17, 1998, for Pittsburgh at Arizona. ... Both starters threw 93 pitches, 62 for strikes.
|Players of the Game|
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|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Russ Adams, SS||4||0||2||0||0||1||2||.244|
|Frank Catalanotto, LF||3||0||0||0||1||0||2||.298|
|Aaron Hill, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||1||4||.365|
|Vernon Wells, CF||4||0||3||0||0||1||2||.254|
|Eric Hinske, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||1||4||.247|
|Gregg Zaun, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||3||.250|
|Orlando Hudson, 2B||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.242|
|Gabe Gross, RF||4||0||2||0||0||2||0||.227|
|Josh Towers, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.000|
|a- Shea Hillenbrand, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.304|
|Justin Speier, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Alex Rios, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.283|
|a-struck out for Towers in the 7th|
|b-flied out for Speier in the 9th|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Josh Towers (L,5-7)||6||8||2||2||1||5||0||4.47|
|IBB - Guzman by Josh Towers|
|Pitches-Strikes - Josh Towers 93-62, Justin Speier 31-23|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Towers 6-7, Justin Speier 1-3|
|Batters Faced - Josh Towers 27, Justin Speier 7|
|Brad Wilkerson, CF||4||1||1||1||0||1||1||.275|
|Marlon Byrd, LF||4||0||0||0||0||1||0||.286|
|Jose Guillen, RF||4||0||2||0||0||0||0||.306|
|Nick Johnson, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.320|
|Vinny Castilla, 3B||4||1||1||0||0||2||2||.255|
|Junior Spivey, 2B||4||1||2||0||0||0||0||.242|
|Brian Schneider, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.265|
|Cristian Guzman, SS||2||0||0||0||1||0||2||.203|
|Esteban Loaiza, P||2||0||1||2||0||1||2||.233|
|a- Carlos Baerga, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.268|
|Gary Majewski, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Luis Ayala, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Chad Cordero, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-struck out for Loaiza in the 6th|
|2B - Jose Guillen (14, Towers), Brian Schneider (12, Towers), Esteban Loaiza (2, Towers)|
|HR - Brad Wilkerson (5, Speier)|
|RBI - Brad Wilkerson (29), Esteban Loaiza 2 (2)|
|2-OUT RBI - Esteban Loaiza 2 (2)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - Castilla-Spivey-N. Johnson, Spivey-Guzman-N. Johnson|
|Esteban Loaiza (W,3-5)||6||6||0||0||1||5||0||3.63|
|Gary Majewski (H,12)||0.1||1||0||0||1||0||0||3.41|
|Luis Ayala (H,14)||1.2||1||0||0||1||2||0||2.62|
|Chad Cordero (S,24)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0.97|
|WP - Esteban Loaiza (3)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Esteban Loaiza 94-62, Gary Majewski 22-13, Luis Ayala 22-11, Chad Cordero 13-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Esteban Loaiza 6-5, Luis Ayala 2-1, Chad Cordero 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Esteban Loaiza 23, Gary Majewski 3, Luis Ayala 7, Chad Cordero 3|
|Attendance - 36689|
|Game Time - 2:34|
|Temperature - 89|
|Umpires - Home - Jim Wolf, First Base - Sam Holbrook, Second Base - Randy Marsh, Third Base - Larry Vanover|