WASHINGTON -- The Nationals signed Rafael Soriano to a two-year, $22 million contract in the offseason because they wanted a shutdown closer. And for much of this season, he has lived up to that billing.
But less than a week after blowing his fourth save in a 2-1 loss to the Marlins, Soriano couldn't keep the score tied on Friday night. He gave up a solo home run to Andre Ethier in the ninth inning that proved to be the deciding run in a 3-2 Nationals loss.
"I don't know how he hit the ball," Soriano said.
Soriano entered Friday night ranked fourth in the National League with 25 saves. He threw four straight fastballs down and away to Ethier before throwing a slider on the inside part of the plate, a pitch that Soriano thought was well located. Ethier crushed it over the right-field fence.
"When I make mistakes, it's not easy for me," Soriano said. "But when I make the pitch, and they hit the ball good like tonight, there's nothing I can do."
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Schad. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.