Inside Pitch: Finding Ways To Lose

Inside Pitch: Finding Ways To Lose

The Nationals spend hour after hour during spring training working on fielding drills. That still couldn't help them Monday night in a 2-1 loss to the Mets. Even though the pitching came through, the defense found a new way to lose a game.

Reliever Gary Majewski appeared to work his way out of a ninth-inning jam, getting Paul Lo Duca to hit a comebacker to the mound with one out and two runners on. But Majewski threw high and wide to second base, and instead of an inning-ending double play, the error allowed the Mets to score the winning run.

"Guys wonder why we practice, practice, practice," manager Frank Robinson said. "We preach, preach, preach: Make sure of one. Take your time, make sure you get one. Give the infielder a good throw. If they can turn two, they'll turn two. They don't have a chance if you don't give them a good throw."

Majewski, whose overall struggles could leave him in danger of a demotion to the minors, took full responsibility for the gaffe.

REPLAY: Gary Majewski's throwing error in the bottom of the ninth handed the Mets a 2-1 win over the Nationals. With one out and runners on first and second, Majewski fielded Paul Lo Duca's come-backer and tried to start an inning-ending double play. He threw high and wide of second, and that allowed the winning run to score.

Majewski's gaffe spoiled a solid pitching performance from starter Ramon Ortiz. The right-hander entered with a 6.75 ERA, but allowed just one run in six innings to get back on track.

NATS NOTES

  • Ryan Zimmerman was not with the Nationals for Monday's game in New York so he could attend his grandmother's funeral in Detroit. Zimmerman, who had not missed a game this season, is expected to be back in the lineup Tuesday. Damian Jackson started in his place at third base. Zimmerman hit four home runs in April, a franchise record for rookies.
  • OF Ryan Church missed his third straight game with a viral infection. Church was quarantined to his hotel room in St. Louis over the weekend, but was back in the Nationals' clubhouse Monday. Manager Frank Robinson said he might be available to pinch-hit Tuesday. OF Marlon Byrd started in Church's place in center field once again.
  • C Wiki Gonzalez and OF Tyrell Godwin passed through waivers and were outrighted to Triple-A New Orleans. Both had been designated for assignment last week to make room on the roster for RHP Zach Day and LHP Mike O'Connor.
  • AROUND THE MAJORS...

    Two homecomings received negative responses Monday, but a better-received return could be coming soon.

  • Johnny Damon received more boos than cheers when he returned to Fenway Park wearing Yankee pinstripes. Damon won some of the crowd over by doffing his batting helmet. The Boston boo-birds had the last laugh - Damon wound up 0-for-4, and the Red Sox beat the Yankees 7-3.
  • Jim Thome, an integral part of Cleveland's AL championship squads in 1995 and 1997, made his first appearance in Jacobs Field while wearing an opposing uniform. The fact that he is now with the White Sox and not the team that signed him away from Cleveland, the Phillies, mattered little to Indians fans, who let him have it all night.

    "Brutal," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I think it's really disappointing. I even saw on TV that (Johnny) Damon was getting applause (in Boston). I think Jim Thome did a lot for this team and city. The way he played here for them, people should tip their hat and say thank you."

    Thome finished 1-for-5, but his RBI single helped Chicago beat Cleveland 8-6.

  • Roger Clemens, now free to sign with any team, might be ready to listen to the Astros' bid. Houston general manager Tim Purpura was arranging a meeting with agents for the right-hander, who might make a run at Sugar Ray Leonard's record for most retirement announcements.

    The Astros didn't offer Clemens arbitration in December, so they were prohibited from negotiating with him until Monday. Now that they are back in the game, they are wasting little time.

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