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St. Louis at Washington

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Hapless Nats get ripped by Cards, 'angry' GM

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

WASHINGTON -- Jim Bowden strode into the Washington Nationals clubhouse, the door slamming shut behind him.

The general manager had just finished watching his team get shut out for the second straight game against a surprise starter, and his defense and pitching weren't exactly stellar, either, in Sunday's 6-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Several minutes later, on a ramp below the stands at RFK Stadium, Bowden described himself as "angry, frustrated, disappointed" and ripped his team's performance.

"It was pathetic," the GM said. "We gave them this game today. This is embarrassing. We gave them those runs."

Turning his attention to the hitters, scoreless over 21 innings, Bowden said: "This isn't a problem of one guy or two guys. We have an embarrassing problem of all eight. Zero offense."

Washington didn't face Chris Carpenter. It didn't even face Mark Mulder, the 15-game winner scratched Saturday and Sunday with a stiff neck.

Instead, it was Cal Eldred who made his first start since 2001 on Sunday and combined with four St. Louis relievers to limit the Nationals to four singles. Washington scraped out two singles in Saturday's 6-0 defeat against Jason Marquis, who stopped a seven-start losing streak with the first shutout of his career.

"You shouldn't play like this at home. It's not acceptable," manager Frank Robinson said.

Washington went 2-4 on this homestand, also losing to .500-or-worse starters Luke Hudson and Brandon Claussen of Cincinnati.

"We all stink," cleanup hitter Jose Guillen said. "We're just looking like Little League players."

How out of sorts are the Nationals at the plate? Guillen decided on his own to try a bunt with runners on first and second and no outs in the fourth inning.

"Trying to make something happen," he said, "and it didn't work out the way I wanted."

His bunt went to reliever Brad Thompson (2-0), who got the forceout at second. The next batter -- Preston Wilson -- grounded into an inning-ending double play.

"We need to not do those types of things," Brad Wilkerson said. "When you've got your best hitter at the plate, and you're struggling to score some runs, we need him swinging the bat."

The major league-best Cardinals, meanwhile, managed to score plenty even though Albert Pujols was ejected in the first inning, and Jim Edmonds left after a collision at the plate in the sixth.

"I always say you don't just win with homers. You need a bunt, you need a hit-and-run, you need a steal," manager Tony La Russa said. "Those are the little things that helped us out to win 105 games last year and those are the things that are helping us out this year to win some games."

Washington's own spot starter, John Halama (0-1), turned in five strong innings. But in the sixth, the Cardinals scored three runs despite only one solidly hit ball. An error, two walks, a double steal and a couple of close plays did the rest. They added three in the eighth.

The key play in the sixth came with Edmonds on third, and the slower Yadier Molina on first. With So Taguchi up, the Cardinals put on a double steal. Backup catcher Gary Bennett's throw to second was cut off by backup second baseman Jamey Carroll. But his throw home was up the third-base line as Edmonds barreled into Bennett, and Carroll was charged with an error.

"In that situation, I've just got to realize what's going on there and not make the throw," Bennett said. "Those are the kind of mistakes we can't afford to make."

Taguchi hit a comebacker, but the ball ricocheted away from reliever Hector Carrasco, and his throw to first was too late. The unearned run made it 3-0, drawing boos from the announced crowd of 41,130.

The Nationals have the worst offense in baseball, last in nearly every major category, including runs and batting average. That's why they've been losing despite strong pitching and being on pace to set franchise records for fewest errors and fewest unearned runs allowed in a season.

After leading the NL East by 5½ games on July 3, Washington has dropped to last place, seven games behind Atlanta heading into a four-game series at the Braves.

"It's either put up or shut up now," Wilkerson said. "I hope guys aren't giving up."

Bowden issued a challenge to his players, noting that rosters can be expanded Thursday.

"They all know by the last game in Atlanta there's going to be enough choices for Frank that he doesn't have to play any of them if he doesn't want to," Bowden said.

"Be a man, wake up and do some damage or guess what? After that, Frank can do whatever he can do. By the time it gets to Thursday, they're not hitting, he might as well put other people in there. There's a lot of guys who can score no runs a game."

Notes

  • Cardinals SS David Eckstein hit two doubles and scored twice.
  • Pujols was ejected after he was caught stealing.
  • Edmonds banged his right knee against one of Bennett's shin guards but expects to play Monday at Florida.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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David Eckstein accounts for one of the Cards' six runs and finishes 2-for-5 with two runs.  (AP)
David Eckstein accounts for one of the Cards' six runs and finishes 2-for-5 with two runs. (AP)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

D. Eckstein
AB 5
R 2
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
St. Louis

Y. Molina
AB 4
R 2
H 1
HR 0
RBI 1
 
St. Louis Cardinals
David Eckstein, SS5220010 .276
Jim Edmonds, CF2100102 .268
    Scott Seabol, 1B2000011 .205
Albert Pujols, 1B1010000 .334
    Einar Diaz, 1B1000000 .203
   a- John Rodriguez, PH-LF1111100 .291
Yadier Molina, C4211001 .253
So Taguchi, LF-CF4011010 .295
Mark Grudzielanek, 2B3000101 .301
    Al Reyes, P0000000 .000
    Ray King, P0000000 .000
Abraham Nunez, 3B4012010 .302
Hector Luna, RF-2B4010022 .282
Cal Eldred, P1000011 .000
    Brad Thompson, P1000010 .200
   b- Jason Marquis, PH1000010 .356
    Julian Tavarez, P0000000 .000
    John Mabry, RF1000010 .259
Totals356853108 
a-walked for Diaz in the 6th
b-struck out for Thompson in the 7th
Batting
2B - David Eckstein 2 (21, Halama, Stanton)
RBI - John Rodriguez (17), Yadier Molina (37), So Taguchi (45), Abraham Nunez 2 (39)
2-OUT RBI - So Taguchi (13), Abraham Nunez 2 (13)
SB - Jim Edmonds (3, off Carrasco/Bennett), John Rodriguez (1, 3rd base off Stanton/Bennett), Yadier Molina 2 (2, 3rd base off Carrasco/Bennett, 2nd base off Stanton/Bennett)
CS - Albert Pujols (2, 2nd base by Halama/Bennett)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Eckstein-Grudzielanek-Diaz, Luna-Eckstein-Seabol
St. Louis Cardinals
Cal Eldred 3200120 1.98
Brad Thompson (W,2-0) 3100000 2.62
Julian Tavarez (H,28) 1000010 2.78
Al Reyes 1000010 2.31
Ray King 1100100 2.80
Pitches-Strikes - Cal Eldred 50-31, Brad Thompson 30-23, Julian Tavarez 17-11, Al Reyes 15-11, Ray King 22-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Cal Eldred 4-3, Brad Thompson 7-1, Julian Tavarez 1-1, Al Reyes 2-0, Ray King 1-1
Batters Faced - Cal Eldred 12, Brad Thompson 9, Julian Tavarez 3, Al Reyes 3, Ray King 4
Washington Nationals
Brad Wilkerson, LF4010000 .248
Jamey Carroll, 2B3010100 .246
Nick Johnson, 1B4010001 .292
Jose Guillen, RF4000002 .298
Preston Wilson, CF3000021 .260
Vinny Castilla, 3B2000100 .247
Gary Bennett, C3000011 .235
Cristian Guzman, SS3010000 .196
John Halama, P2000011 .000
    Hector Carrasco, P0000000 .000
    Gary Majewski, P0000000 .000
    Mike Stanton, P0000000 .000
    Jason Bergmann, P1000000 .000
Totals29040246 
Fielding
E - Jamey Carroll (4, Wild throw), Vinny Castilla (8, Misplayed grounder)
Washington Nationals
John Halama (L,1-2) 5.1322130 5.14
Hector Carrasco 0.2110100 2.21
Gary Majewski 1000030 2.97
Mike Stanton 0.2333110 6.26
Jason Bergmann 1.1100030 0.00
IBB - Grudzielanek by Mike Stanton
Pitches-Strikes - John Halama 74-48, Hector Carrasco 17-10, Gary Majewski 15-9, Mike Stanton 18-9, Jason Bergmann 18-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Halama 6-7, Hector Carrasco 2-0, Jason Bergmann 1-0
Batters Faced - John Halama 20, Hector Carrasco 4, Gary Majewski 3, Mike Stanton 6, Jason Bergmann 5
Game Information
Attendance - 41130
Game Time - 2:59
Temperature - 80
Umpires - Home - Gary Darling, First Base - Larry Poncino, Second Base - Paul Nauert, Third Base - Mark Wegner