WASHINGTON -- Frank Robinson held a 104-minute, closed-door clubhouse meeting Saturday afternoon so his players could "clear the air" a day after they lost a 12th straight one-run game and their starting pitcher threw a mini-tantrum upon exiting.
So what did the Nationals head out and do after the "tough love" session?
They lost another one-run decision, and their starting pitcher made clear he wasn't pleased about leaving the game when he did.
San Diego's Joe Randa delivered a tiebreaking RBI double off reliever Joey Eischen one batter after Ryan Drese slammed his glove in the dugout when he was lifted in the seventh inning, and the NL West-leading Padres got back to .500 by edging the Nationals 3-2 Saturday night.
Drese had a 2-2 count on Dave Roberts with a man on second and no outs in the seventh inning of a 2-all game. That's when Robinson removed the right-hander. Eischen, a lefty, struck out Roberts but gave up a hit to the righty Randa.
What did Drese (3-5) think about being taken out in the middle of an at-bat?
"I was very surprised. Never happened before," Drese said, adding that Robinson didn't give him a reason for the timing. "He gets to make the moves. It's one of those things, that if we go out there and end up winning the game, then it looks like a great move. If we lose, then it looks like a bad move."
Robinson said he didn't think Drese would get Roberts out, and he hoped the veteran Eischen would know he should pitch around Randa to get to the next two batters, both left-handed.
"We gambled a little bit there," Robinson said.
Still, that wouldn't have loomed so large if the Nationals didn't have their latest in a string of poor showings on offense - and this time against Pedro Astacio (1-2), who had lost his last five decisions.
"We're just not putting enough pressure on the other ballclub offensively," Robinson said.
The Nationals scored on Jose Vidro's RBI groundout in the third, and Vinny Castilla's solo shot in the fourth. It was the 2004 NL RBI leader's first homer since June 30 -- a span of 93 at-bats.
But Washington never got more than one hit in an inning, went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, and left five runners on base. After Vidro doubled off Astacio with two outs in the fifth, San Diego's starter combined with two relievers to retire nine straight batters.
That Washington drought ended with Nick Johnson's two-out single in the eighth, but Preston Wilson then struck out, drawing scattered boos from the crowd of 38,076.
Trevor Hoffman worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 29th save.
San Diego won its third straight game to get to 55-55.
"No relief in sight. It will be a relief when we clinch," Randa said. "We're going to keep pressing and pushing, every inning, every game."
They had 11 hits, but left 11 runners on base. San Diego's first two runs both came on sacrifice flies.
"Getting contributions from everybody," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We scratched and clawed again tonight."
The Nationals, meanwhile, were assured of dropping another series; that makes eight of nine they've lost. And a team that was 24-8 in one-run games on July 8 is 0-13 since in such contests.
Robinson said the pregame meeting was a chance for his players to raise concerns -- "some things that came up was, like, tough love," he said -- but neither he nor they would get into specifics.
"We didn't waste this card. I can't remember the last time I played this card. This was not your typical meeting. This was a meeting where the players talked to the staff and talked about anything that they wanted to dream up. I call it a 'clear the air' type meeting," Robinson said.
"Just because you have a meeting doesn't mean you're going to go out and go on a tear."