WASHINGTON -- Perhaps Livan Hernandez was frustrated by giving away a lead in a loss to the NL-worst Colorado Rockies. Or by tying a modern major-league record by hitting four batters. Or maybe he was upset he was taken out after seven innings.
The Washington Nationals' All-Star pitcher wouldn't say exactly what was bothering him or fully explain why he suddenly announced after Wednesday night's 3-2 loss to the Rockies that he's contemplating having right knee surgery that could end his season.
"I'm not happy for three years. After the season, I'm going to tell you" why, said Hernandez, 12-4 with a 3.44 ERA and the unquestioned staff ace.
"It's 99.9 percent I'm not going to pitch no more" this season, he said. "I'm done, I think, so let's see what happens. ... I'll go to sleep and I'm going to make a decision tonight."
His right knee has been a nagging problem all year, and it was drained May 16. But Hernandez said it's not bothering him enough to affect his pitching -- nor was he told to have the knee worked on.
"It's not the doctors. It's me. I'm the doctor. I don't need it, but I'm going to" have an operation, he said.
Pressed to explain why, Hernandez said: "I'm tired of something. ... I'll tell you when the season's over. I'm mad."
Told of Hernandez's comments, Nationals manager Frank Robinson said he didn't want to say much without hearing directly from his pitcher.
"I have no idea who he's mad at," Robinson said.
Hernandez allowed a two-run homer to J.D. Closser in the sixth inning that wiped out Washington's 2-1 lead and helped the Rockies win a road series for the first time since September.
"It feels like it has been that long," Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. "It is an accomplishment."
Washington lost for the seventh time in nine games and saw its NL East lead drop to a half-game over the Atlanta Braves, who defeated San Francisco 4-1.
All of a sudden, the hallmarks of the Nationals' early success are failing them: winning at home and winning close games. They have lost five straight one-run decisions, and five of their last seven games at RFK Stadium.
The Rockies, meanwhile, had lost 12 series and tied two on the road. But they took two of three games in Washington, each by a run.
"To win two games in this series by one run is ironic," Closser said.
In the sixth, Hernandez plunked Desi Relaford -- who was hitless in his preceding 29 at-bats. The next batter was Closser, who yanked a 1-1 fastball into the visiting bullpen in right field.
Hernandez allowed three runs, eight hits and two walks. He's the first NL pitcher to hit four batters in a game since Pedro Astacio of Colorado at Arizona on April 22, 2001.
Jason Jennings (6-9) earned the victory, allowing two runs over five innings. But the right-hander left after throwing just 70 pitches because he sprained the middle finger on his pitching hand while sliding into second base after singling in the sixth.
Four relievers combined on four scoreless innings of relief, with Brian Fuentes pitching the ninth for his 14th save. Fuentes got pinch-hitter Vinny Castilla on a hard liner to short with runners on the corners and two outs.
"Right at him," said Castilla, out of the starting lineup to rest a left knee injury. "I did hit it good."
The Nationals led 2-0 after four innings, though they probably ran themselves out of more in the first. That's when Jose Vidro was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple, and Brad Wilkerson was doubled off first when he was running as a popup sailed between the bag and right field.
The Rockies, meanwhile, were playing like a club that entered the day 32-60 overall and 8-37 away from Coors Field -- the worst road start since the 1963 Mets began 7-44.
They had a runner picked off second base and another caught stealing. After Wilkerson struck out swinging for the first out of the fourth, catcher Closser tried to whip the ball around the horn, but his toss sailed into the outfield.
The next batter, Jose Guillen, hit a relatively routine grounder to short, and Relaford's throw wound up in the stands for a two-base error.
But the Nationals stranded Guillen. That became a pattern.
After Jamey Carroll's sacrifice fly in the third inning drove in Baerga for Washington's second run, the hosts went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
"Any team you go against can beat you unless you're on top of your game," Robinson said. "We're not on top of our game right now."
|It's that kind of night for Carlos Baerga and the Nationals, who lose to the NL's worst team. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Cory Sullivan, CF||4||1||2||0||1||0||1||.286|
|Aaron Miles, 2B||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||.286|
|Todd Helton, 1B||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||.290|
|Eric Byrnes, RF||4||0||0||0||0||1||5||.263|
|Matt Holliday, LF||4||0||2||1||0||0||0||.289|
|Luis Gonzalez, 3B||3||0||1||0||0||0||2||.289|
|Desi Relaford, SS||3||1||0||0||0||1||2||.227|
|J.D. Closser, C||3||1||2||2||1||0||0||.216|
|Danny Ardoin, C||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.200|
|Jason Jennings, P||3||0||1||0||0||2||4||.158|
|Jose Acevedo, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mike DeJean, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Dan Miceli, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Dustan Mohr, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.204|
|Brian Fuentes, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-struck out for Miceli in the 9th|
|2B - Matt Holliday 2 (11, Hernandez, Hernandez)|
|HR - J.D. Closser (6, Hernandez)|
|SH - Aaron Miles (7)|
|RBI - Matt Holliday (24), J.D. Closser 2 (21)|
|2-OUT RBI - Matt Holliday (11)|
|CS - Cory Sullivan (2, 2nd base by Hernandez/Schneider)|
|PK - Matt Holliday (2, Hernandez)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - Helton-J. Jennings|
|E - Desi Relaford (10, Wild throw)|
|Jason Jennings (W,6-9)||5||4||2||2||0||3||0||5.02|
|Jose Acevedo (H,5)||1.2||3||0||0||0||1||0||3.92|
|Mike DeJean (H,4)||0.1||0||0||0||0||1||0||5.46|
|Dan Miceli (H,2)||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||3.97|
|Brian Fuentes (S,14)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||2.86|
|HBP - Baerga (by Brian Fuentes)|
|WP - Brian Fuentes (6)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jason Jennings 70-45, Jose Acevedo 31-21, Mike DeJean 5-3, Dan Miceli 18-10, Brian Fuentes 16-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jason Jennings 7-4, Jose Acevedo 1-3, Dan Miceli 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Jason Jennings 18, Jose Acevedo 8, Mike DeJean 1, Dan Miceli 4, Brian Fuentes 5|
|Jamey Carroll, SS||2||1||1||1||1||0||0||.254|
|Jose Vidro, 2B||3||0||1||1||0||1||0||.281|
|Brad Wilkerson, 1B||4||0||2||0||0||2||1||.267|
|Jose Guillen, RF||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.302|
|Brian Schneider, C||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.279|
|a- Gary Bennett, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.229|
|Preston Wilson, CF||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.261|
|Ryan Church, LF||4||0||2||0||0||1||0||.315|
|Carlos Baerga, 3B||3||1||2||0||0||0||0||.283|
|Kenny Kelly, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.333|
|Livan Hernandez, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.167|
|b- Marlon Byrd, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.252|
|Gary Majewski, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mike Stanton, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Vinny Castilla, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.254|
|a-lined out for Schneider in the 9th|
|b-struck out for Hernandez in the 7th|
|c-lined out for Stanton in the 9th|
|2B - Jose Vidro (11, J. Jennings), Brad Wilkerson (29, Acevedo), Ryan Church (12, Fuentes), Carlos Baerga (5, J. Jennings)|
|SF - Jamey Carroll (3)|
|SH - Jose Vidro (1), Livan Hernandez (10)|
|RBI - Jamey Carroll (15), Jose Vidro (21)|
|SB - Ryan Church (1, 3rd base off DeJean/Closser)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - Baerga-Vidro-Wilkerson, Vidro-Carroll-Wilkerson|
|Livan Hernandez (L,12-4)||7||8||3||3||2||5||1||3.44|
|HBP - Miles (by Livan Hernandez), Gonzalez (by Livan Hernandez), Helton (by Livan Hernandez), Relaford (by Livan Hernandez)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Livan Hernandez 104-65, Gary Majewski 7-5, Mike Stanton 9-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Livan Hernandez 7-6, Gary Majewski 1-2, Mike Stanton 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Livan Hernandez 32, Gary Majewski 3, Mike Stanton 3|
|Attendance - 32381|
|Game Time - 2:54|
|Temperature - 89|
|Umpires - Home - Tom Hallion, First Base - Paul Nauert, Second Base - Mark Wegner, Third Base - Larry Poncino|