Patterson not perfect, but perfect fit for Nats

Right-hander struggles with location but leads Washington over Phils, 3-1


April 27, 2005|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Washington Nationals starter John Patterson has had smoother outings this season, times when he has dominated a lineup through inning after perfect inning.

Last night, Patterson didn't have command of his pitches and walked as many batters as he did in his first three starts combined.

Only once did the right-hander retire all three batters in an inning, yet last night's 3-1 win against the Philadelphia Phillies in front of 23,332 at RFK Stadium might have been his most inspiring performance of an impressive April.

Because Patterson (2-1, 0.98 ERA) battled through his problems, and never gave in.

"When you've got good stuff and you believe in your stuff, then you can get by like he did tonight without his location," said Nationals manager Frank Robinson. "Again that reiterates and should assure him, and other pitchers, you don't always have to have your good stuff to win or at least keep your team in the ballgame."

The night didn't start well for Patterson, who allowed three of the first four batters he faced to reach base. Jim Thome's one-out RBI single broke Patterson's 14-inning scoreless streak and gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead. He then recorded the next two outs to escape the first.

He continued the tightrope trend throughout most of the game.

In his next four innings, at least one Phillie reached base against Patterson, but none scored. Patterson gave up a season-high four walks and six hits, but has yet to surrender more than two runs in any of his four starts in 2005.

"It just shows I can go out there and not have all the touch ...," Patterson said. "And [I can] battle and compete and keep the team in the game ... That's what I wanted the team to see, too."

With two on and two out in the seventh, rookie right-hander Gary Majewski entered and got the left-handed Thome to ground out to end the inning. Majewski hasn't allowed a hit to a left-hander in eight tries this month. Even so, he was a bit surprised that he got the call instead of left-hander Joey Eischen.

"It was pretty big," Majewski said. "I have my moments where I am real calm and collected. Today, I was a little bit nervous to come in that situation, but I told myself I've done it before and I can do it again."

Luis Ayala and Chad Cordero (fourth save) pitched two innings of scoreless relief.

Patterson also was partially responsible for Washington's game-breaking rally in the fifth. He lined a one-out double to right, the first extra-base hit of his career.

Brad Wilkerson followed with his third homer - a towering shot to right that became the first in Nationals history to reach the upper deck at RFK.

"I was impressed," Robinson said. "He got it all, no doubt about it."

Nick Johnson's bases-empty homer, his first of the season, tied the score at 1-1 in the first. The home run to right-center extended Johnson's career-best hitting streak to 16 games.

It was the perfect blueprint for handling Philadelphia starter Jon Lieber (4-1), who has now allowed seven homers in 35 2/3 innings.

He walked four batters in six innings, breaking a streak of 43 games in which he walked two or fewer. The last time he walked three was May 24, 2002, when he pitched for the Cubs.

NOTES: Johnson left the game after fouling a ball off the back of his left leg. He was diagnosed with a bruise and will sit out today's game ... Injured starter Tony Armas, on the disabled list with a groin pull, will make at least another rehabilitation start at Triple-A New Orleans before being recalled. He allowed nine hits and six runs in five innings Monday against Round Rock. ... Robinson, who is 69 and in his fifth decade in baseball, will testify before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Aging this morning. ... The D.C. United soccer team has filed a report with Major League Soccer stating its field at RFK is no longer a perfect rectangle. Officials are hopeful the corner-to-corner diagonals will be evened out soon. The Nationals and D.C. United are sharing the field until 2008.

Nats schedule, Today's game

Opponent: Philadelphia Phillies

Site, time: RFK Stadium, Washington, 4:35 p.m.

Radio: 1050 AM

Starters: Phillies' Brett Myers (1-1, 1.71) vs. Nationals' Esteban Loaiza (0-1, 4.74)

The week ahead

Date Opponent Time

4/28 Off

4/29 N.Y. Mets 7:05 p.m.

4/30 N.Y. Mets 7:05 p.m.

5/1 N.Y. Mets 8:05 p.m.

5/2 at L.A. Dodgers 10:10 p.m.

5/3 at L.A. Dodgers 10:10 p.m.

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