Nationals get bad news all around

Shoulder bothers Armas in 6-2 home loss to Reds

August 24, 2005|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - In their quest for a wild-card playoff berth, the Washington Nationals hold one potential trump card over their closest rivals: home-field advantage.

Two-thirds of the team's remaining games are at RFK Stadium, where the Nationals were 34-22 entering last night's game. They have more home dates upcoming than the Houston Astros, Florida Marlins, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.

Problem is, the Nationals aren't the dominant home team they were before the All-Star break - a point they agonizingly proved to their fans again last night in a 6-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

Washington could manage just four hits in seven innings against starter Luke Hudson, who entered the game with a 7.35 ERA.

And the Nationals suffered some bad luck: Starter Tony Armas Jr., who entered the game 5-0 at RFK Stadium, suffered shoulder soreness and was ineffective.

Armas, usually a much better pitcher at home than on the road, surrendered four earned runs in three innings before departing.

"It's the same thing he's had previously - he just couldn't get loose," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said.

It was little consolation to the Nationals that they lost to a hot road club. The Reds have won 13 of their past 17 away games.

"Each game we're playing in now, we feel we kind of have to win that ballgame," Robinson said. "We just can't keep on losing ground now and expect to move past these ballclubs."

Armas was being examined last night by physicians. The back end of the team's rotation suffered another blow when the team announced last night that Ryan Drese was being placed on the disabled list with right shoulder problems. Right-hander Travis Hughes is being recalled and is expected to work in the bullpen, Robinson said.

The Nationals did get two home runs last night - from Jose Guillen and Vinnie Castilla - but it wasn't enough. It was Guillen's 22nd of the year but just his second at RFK, where he has been victimized by the stadium's deep power alleys.

The Reds scored four runs in the third, highlighted by Edwin Encarnacion's leadoff home run.

NOTE: Major League Baseball hopes to select a new owner for the Nationals by Labor Day and transfer control of the team by Oct. 1. Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said in New York that the sport wants a lease for the team's new ballpark signed before the selection of an owner is announced, according to the Associated Press.

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