Nationals need to regroup

Nationals need to regroup

ATLANTA -- The Nationals look like the same old Nationals, and they currently are on a seven-game losing streak that dates back to the end of last season.

Lack of pitching, hitting and defense were the reasons they were swept by the Marlins at Dolphin Stadium to start the 2009 season, and life is going to be even tougher as they face the Braves in a three-game series starting Friday night. Atlanta right-hander Derek Lowe will pitch the first game, and let's not forget how dangerous Chipper Jones can be.

Most of the Nationals players said it's too early to panic.

"This is not the end of the season. That should be No. 1," left-hander Scott Olsen said. "We have to regroup on our day off and come back on Friday ready to play. The Marlins are pretty good, too. Let's not lose sight of that. They threw starters at us that are pretty good. They have a powerful offense, too."

On the other hand, left fielder Adam Dunn is not patient after the three-game sweep. He wants to win now.

"It's kind of an excuse to say that it's only the third game, but we had a chance to win [Wednesday's game], and we let it slip," Dunn said. "[The entire series] was awful. It's not how we wanted to start our season. The only thing we can do is put it behind us and clear our minds."

Outfielder/infielder Willie Harris is looking at the Nationals' situation philosophically. He pointed out that the team got off to a 3-0 start in 2008, but it won 56 games the rest of the way. The National now are 0-3, and according to Harris, things could turn around on the field.

"We are 0-3 and we now know what we need to do," Harris said. "There's nothing you can really do about it except keep playing hard. If you continue to play the game hard and play the game right, things will turn around.

"We have a good ballclub here. We have great leadership. I think we are going to be fine. I think everybody was a little anxious in Florida. Now we have the first series out of the way. We have a day off, go to Atlanta and we are going to face the top end of their starting rotation in Atlanta."

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