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Notes: Logan on fire since chat

Notes: Logan on fire since chat

SAN FRANCISCO -- Not too long ago, Nationals general manager Jim Bowden didn't like the way center fielder Nook Logan was playing the game of baseball, and told him so.

According to Logan, Bowden wanted him to start showing more energy and being the player that hit .300 in 27 games last September. During most of the 2007 season, Logan looked lost with the bat and glove. He stopped bunting for base hits, a skill that made him popular going into this season, and made serious mistakes running the bases.

"He told me to play with a little more energy and get back to doing what I used to do -- bunt a little more, just get that little flair back in my game," Logan said. "He wanted to let me know that people know what's going on, even if they are not in the dugout. They saw my body language and everything.

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"I'm a laid-back guy. I keep stuff to myself. I just go out and play. I might walk a little slow all the time, but when the ball is hit, I'm full speed."

Bowden declined to comment about his conversation with Logan.

It appears that Logan took Bowden's words to heart. Entering Thursday's action, Logan was on a six-game hitting streak and is batting .343 in 24 games since the All-Star break, raising his batting average from .227 to .271.

Now that he has given up switch-hitting and is strictly a right-handed hitter, Logan said he is feeling more comfortable hitting off-speed pitches against right-handers.

"[Bowden's words] helped me more mentally than physically," Logan said. "I'm just going out there playing everyday. I'm letting the game come to me. I'm not trying to do too much -- see the ball, hit the ball. Keep it simple. That's what I've been doing."

Pitching, pitching, pitching: In the last 36 games, dating back to June 28, The Nationals have a Major League-best 3.75 ERA. Manager Manny Acta credits pitching coach Randy St. Claire and catcher Brian Schneider for the success on the mound.

Acta said St. Claire is one of the hardest working coaches in baseball. St. Claire always is looking at video and looking for ways to improve the staff. He is so valued that Bowden gave St. Claire an extension before he signed Acta or former manager Frank Robinson to contracts.

"Randy does all the little things with the guys. He works on fielding their position, holding runners, the overall thing. He does such a tremendous job," Acta said.

Schneider said the pitching staff is hungry and are listening to what he has to say.

"They are the best staff as far as following a game plan," Schneider said. "They are sticking with me and trusting me. We are working together as a whole. They are sticking together and eager to win."

More moundwork: Right-hander Jon Rauch continues to show why he is one of the reasons the Nationals have one of the strongest bullpens in baseball. In the eighth inning, the Giants had runners on first and third and no outs, but Rauch battled back and got out of the inning.

Rauch struck out Rajai Davis for the first out. Up steps Barry Bonds to the plate as a pinch-hitter. The goal was to pitch him on the outside part of the plate. The previous two nights, Bonds hit inside pitches for home runs. Rauch struck with the game plan and induced Bonds to pop up to Ryan Zimmerman at third.

"It was a pivotal point of the game. He is arguably the best hitter in the game. I just tried to make quality pitches and make him beat me to the opposite field. He hit that ball up," Rauch said. "Obviously, I was pretty pumped at that point."

With the count 1-2 on the next hitter, Bengie Molina, Rauch was able to pick off Pedro Feliz, who was trying to steal second base.

Minor League news: Class A Vermont's first baseman Bill Rhinehart, right fielder Aaron Seuss and pitchers Adrian Alaniz, Glenn Gibson and Colten Willems were named to the New York-Penn League All-Star Game, which will be played on Aug. 14 at Dutchess Stadium.

Vermont is the best team in the Nationals' Minor League system, going 29-19 entering Thursday's action.

Stat of the day: Entering Thursday's action, Jesus Flores is 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

Did you know? Robert Fick leads the Nationals in ejections with two.

Coming up: The Nationals travel to Arizona to play a three-game series against the Diamondbacks. The last time these two teams met was last April, with the Diamondbacks sweeping the three-game series at RFK Stadium.

Washington left-hander Matt Chico will face Arizona right-hander Livan Hernandez on Friday at 9:40 p.m. ET.

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

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