Nationals' bats stopped by Jimenez in Game 1

Nationals' bats stopped by Jimenez in Game 1

DENVER -- On April 22, Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez and Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez found themselves in a pitchers' duel, with Jimenez winning the battle at Nationals Park.

In the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Saturday, the two hurlers had a rematch, and Jimenez again got the upper hand, as the Rockies downed the Nationals, 6-2, at Coors Field.

Both Hernandez and Jimenez pitched well. Jimenez lasted eight innings and allowed two runs on seven hits, while Hernandez allowed three runs in six innings. Hernandez has two losses this season; and both are to Jimenez and the Rockies.

"Today's outing [for Jimenez] didn't look like the outing [on April 22], but he is still unbelievable," Hernandez said. "We had a couple of chances, and we hit the ball very well. He kept fighting and fighting and pitched well. He beat me a second time.

"I think he is the best pitcher in the game because he has the best numbers. He is looking for the Cy Young this year, so don't be surprised."

Hernandez became the losing pitcher in the sixth inning, when the Rockies broke a 2-2 tie. Ian Stewart hit a fly ball to left field that should have been caught by Willie Harris, but it appeared that Harris lost the ball, and it fell in for a base hit, scoring Troy Tulowitzki.

Harris, who was unavailable for comment after the game, also had trouble locating a fly ball off the bat of Brad Hawpe in the third inning. The ball, which was hit straight to Harris, ended up going past him for a double. Luckily for the Nationals, Hawpe did not score in the inning.

The Rockies put the game out of reach in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Brian Bruney entered the game. The inning started with two walks, to Hawpe and Troy Tulowitzki.

After Jason Giambi hit into a force play, eliminating Tulowitzki from the equation, and Miguel Olivo popped out, Stewart doubled to drive in Hawpe. Clint Barmes followed with a two-run single.

"We've seen that too many times. The first [two] hitters walked," Riggleman said about Bruney. "He almost got out of it, but it just wasn't good enough."

For the season, Bruney has allowed 15 earned runs in 17 2/3 innings and has walked 20 batters, which is second on the club behind starter John Lannan, who has 22 walks.

Riggleman, who was visibly upset after the game, didn't have many options out of the bullpen in Game 1 of the doubleheader. He didn't want to use his best relievers, Tyler Clippard, Tyler Walker or Matt Capps, in the first game because the Nationals were trailing.

"It's a tough situation, because we have the doubleheader," Riggleman said. "We are down, so I don't want to use Clippard, Capps, and guys like that. I don't want to use those guys when we are down, when I know I might need them, when we are winning. I don't want to use them in both games. Our hands are tied a little bit there."

Riggleman even admitted that the Nationals may have to make a roster move regarding Bruney.

"We have to talk about it, because you have to be able to use your guys," Riggleman said. "If you are down in the game -- I look for one inning there -- you have to hold the fort there. The walks are hurting him, and he has to find a way to make an adjustment. If it wasn't a doubleheader day, we would handle things differently."

Bruney didn't have any excuses for his disappointing outing.

"It just wasn't my day. I go out there and give the same effort every day," Bruney said. "It's hard for me to sit here [and] find a reason why I wasn't any good. The effort level and the focus are there. It just wasn't a good day for me.

The Nationals reached Jimenez in the top half of the first, when Nyjer Morgan scored on a broken-bat single by Ryan Zimmerman.

But Hernandez ended up getting burned by the long ball. In the second inning, Giambi hit a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right-center field to tie the score at 1.

"The thing that makes Hernandez great is he's smart," Giambi said. "He never gives in. I kind of figured he was going to throw me a 1-1 breaking ball there. I just told myself to stay back and, luckily, he just threw it high enough where I could get the bat head to it."

Two innings later, Miguel Olivo gave the Rockies a one-run lead when he homered to left-center.

But Washington would tie the score on an Adam Dunn homer, his eighth of the season. The ball ended up landing in the upper deck in right field.

"That was a split-finger that stayed up," Jimenez said "He's a huge guy. Every time he finds a ball, he's going to crush it. That was a bomb."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.