Bats go quiet as Nats are swept

Bats go quiet as Nats are swept

WASHINGTON -- When catcher/first baseman Robert Fick was asked how the Nationals should prepare for their next opponent, the Yankees, Fick gave a profound answer.

"Pray," he said. "We have to do our thing -- the hitting, the pitching, the defense. Everything."

The Nationals did none of those three things against the Rockies on Thursday afternoon as right-hander Jason Jennings and the Rockies defeated the Nationals, 8-1, in front of 22,793 fans at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

After watching his team get swept in the four-game series to drop its record to 30-38, manager Frank Robinson had a closed door meeting and yelled at his players for the way they performed in four-game series.

"You know Frank. He's not happy," Fick said. "Frank just said what he had to say, and the only thing I can say is he probably should have said it a couple days ago. We didn't look good the whole series. He is Frank and hopefully he can fire us up and get us going again.

"He told us we need to pick it up again. We had a good three and a half weeks of good baseball and we kind of let it go the last four days. The Rockies came in and took it to us. We have to get back to the track we were on and take it to the Yankees."

Robinson said he didn't want to see the Nationals lose the momentum after winning 16 of 23 games entering the series against the Rockies. The skipper believed they had a chance to get to .500 this week. They entered the series against Colorado 30-34.

"We worked very hard for three and a half weeks to get ourselves straightened out," Robinson said, "and we played a lot of good baseball and all of a sudden in four days we fell right back into that hole again and looked like the team that was here before we got on that streak."

The Nationals never made any serious threat against Jennings on Thursday. The lone run came on an error by third baseman Garrett Atkins. In the bottom of the seventh inning, with Royce Clayton on first, Alfonso Soriano hit a ball that went through Atkins' legs. Clayton scored all the way from first.

Ever since scoring eight runs in the first four innings of Wednesday's game, the Nationals have scored one run in their last 13 innings.

"I don't know if the hitting has ever been hot in this series," Robinson said. "We played a pretty decent game in Game 1, but we didn't hit much. Even in the game we scored eight runs, the Rockies helped us. We scored eight runs and we should have won. We stopped, they didn't.

"Today, we got nothing. Five hitters struck out swinging at balls in the dirt with two strikes. It looked like we were not focused. We were just going up there, and it looks like we are in a fog and not understanding what we have to do. When we get two strikes, we are trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark.

Right-hander Livan Hernandez started for the Nationals and didn't have a quality outing. He pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up six runs -- five earned. He threw a season-high 138 pitches.

"When we were in a good streak, the pitchers threw strike one," Robinson said. "They get ahead of hitters and finish them off. In this series: ball one, ball two, strike one, ball three, ball four or base hit."

The Rockies struck first when Brad Hawpe hit a two-run homer in the second.

In the fourth inning, Omar Quintanilla drove home Hawpe with a single to center. In the fifth, Jamey Carroll came home on a Todd Helton single.

Hernandez was taken out of the game with two outs in the seventh inning after allowing a two-run single to Hawpe.

The Rockies added two more runs in the ninth inning off reliever Gary Majewski.

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