Nats belted by Braves

Nats belted by Braves

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals had no answers for Chipper Jones and Matt Diaz as they were pounded by the Braves, 10-4, in front of a crowd of 21,550 on Monday night at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

The Nationals have lost three consecutive games, dropping their record to 51-67.

It was game that saw Jones hit three home runs and Diaz tie a Major League record with 10 consecutive hits.

Washington was in the game during the first four innings. It took a 1-0 lead in the first inning off left-hander Chuck James, thanks to Austin Kearns' RBI single that scored Alfonso Soriano.

But the Braves had the lead by the top of the second inning off right-hander Ramon Ortiz, as Diaz took the first pitch and hit the ball over the left-field wall for his fifth home run of the season.

Manager Frank Robinson then made what many thought was a head-scratching decision in the top of the fourth inning. With a runner on third, Adam LaRoche was walked intentionally to get to Diaz, who singled to left field to drive in Andruw Jones.

But the Nationals ended up tying the score in the bottom of the inning thanks to RBI singles by Soriano and Felipe Lopez.

But it was all Braves after that as Ortiz, who has been the most consistent starter of late, couldn't get out of the fifth inning as Chipper Jones hit two-run homer and Brian McCann drove in Andruw Jones with a double.

Two batters later, Robinson decided to walk LaRoche intentionally for the second time to get to Diaz, who then singled to drive in McCann.

In both instances, Robinson had a chance to walk Diaz to load the bases, but the skipper was hoping that Ortiz would pitch around Diaz.

"The execution wasn't how we wanted it," said Nationals catcher Brandon Harper. "He is obviously hot. I just heard he had 10 hits in a row, so things were falling for him. That's how it is sometimes."

Ortiz thought it was a good idea to walk left-handed hitting LaRoche to get to Diaz. Ortiz thought he had a better chance getting the right-handed Diaz.

"The right-handers are better for the left-handed hitters. But this guy [Diaz] is hot. He had three base hits off me," Ortiz said. "I tried to do the best I [could], but nothing tonight. I wanted to pitch down and away or inside. But nothing happened. "

Ortiz pitched 4 2/3 innings and gave up seven runs on nine hits.

"He didn't have his good stuff tonight," Robinson said. "He didn't get ahead of hitters so he could mix up his pitches and be able to be effective."

Diaz would then collect his fourth straight hit of the night and 10th overall to tie a National League record. As he was rounding the bases when James flied out to left field, Ryan Zimmerman showed his appreciation for record tying feat by patting Diaz on the back.

"It's pretty amazing," Zimmerman said. "I didn't even know until tonight when the third-base coach [Fredi Gonzalez] told me. "Ten hits in a row are amazing. It's hard to do."

It was the Chipper Jones show after that, as he belted his second home run of the game off right-hander Ryan Wagner, a solo shot over the right-field wall to give the Braves an 8-3 lead.

Two innings later, Jones hit his third home run of the game, a monster two-run shot into the upper deck off Travis Hughes. It was Jones' first three homer game in just his second game since coming off the disabled list on Sunday.

"I guess he's coming off the DL and I guess he's healthy," Harper said. "He hit three different pitches for home runs tonight. He's one of the best hitters in the game when he's right."

Outfielder Ryan Church drove in the last Nationals' run by hitting a home run off Wayne Franklyn.

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