Nats continue to slide against Tigers

Nats continue to slide against Tigers

WASHINGTON -- Almost 30 minutes after watching his team get pounded on Tuesday night at RFK Stadium, Nationals manager Manny Acta gave the Tigers nothing but praise.

Acta realized early that day that his team was no match for the Tigers and came to the conclusion that Detroit may be the team to beat the rest of the way. Watching the Nationals give up a season-high 15 runs on 17 hits can make one think that way.

"That's a big-time club," Acta said. "It's no coincidence that the Tigers were in the World Series last year. I wouldn't bet against them being in there again."

Right-hander Jason Simontacchi started the game for the Nationals. In his last two starts, Simontacchi pitched at least seven innings, but in his first start against the Tigers, he had nothing in the tank. He gave up 10 runs, which tied a club record set by Expos right-hander Shayne Bennett, in three-plus innings. Simontacchi's ERA ballooned from 4.84 to 6.31.

No matter what Simontacchi threw on the mound, the Tigers crushed it.

"I tried to miss their bats," Simontacchi said. "It was one of those nights that things didn't go my way."

Detroit started its hit parade early. The Tigers scored three runs in the first and four more in the third. Simontacchi left the game in the fourth inning after he failed to record an out after three batters. Asked what went wrong with Simontacchi on the mound, Acta gave a simple answer: The Tigers.

"They are the best team we have seen so far. They can flat out hit. They have a combination of talent and experience that is very difficult to match. They are just a good team -- flat out," Acta said.

Simontacchi is usually upset when he doesn't get the job done. But this was a game that he gave credit the Tigers, who have a team batting average of .295, the best in baseball.

"Those guys probably have black eyes fighting to get to the bat rack," Simontacchi joked. "What do you say after this game? You just have to let it go.

"Maybe I should have been a batting practice pitching coach. It's just one of those games where everything I threw up there was hit hard and it was see you later. They are on their 'A' game. Everything I threw -- inside, outside, down and up -- you tip your hats to them. They are playing great baseball right now."

First baseman Dmitri Young knows the Tigers all too well. He played with the team for five years. He saw firsthand what Simontacchi was trying to do on Tuesday and Young came away convinced that the Tigers were going to be tough to beat the rest of the way.

"The only thing that is going to stop them from winning is themselves," Young said. "They swung the bats extremely well. They have the pitching. They may be the team to beat. They kept coming and coming and coming. We were on the field way too long. They were hitting everything. They were hitting the curveballs, fastballs, split-fingers."

Relievers Levale Speigner, Billy Traber, Ray King and Winston Abreu gave up a combined five runs the rest of the way.

The Washington hitters had problems with right-hander Chad Durbin, who pitched a solid six innings and gave up one run on five hits. The one run was scored in the fifth inning when Cristian Guzman drove in Brian Schneider with single.

"Durbin was ahead from inning one," Acta said. "He had a big lead and he was able to change speeds on us. He did a good job on us. We can't take that away from him because they scored all those runs."

The Nationals have lost four of their last five games and dropped their record to 30-41.

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