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Nationals marred by delays in loss

Nationals marred by delays in loss

WASHINGTON -- On May 3 of this year, the game between the Nationals and Cardinals was postponed because of rain. The game was made up on Thursday night at Nationals Park, but it lasted just six innings, with St. Louis defeating Washington, 4-1.

There were two rain delays that totaled two hours and 46 minutes, and the game was called during the second delay.

Right-hander Collin Balester started for Washington and gave up three runs -- two earned -- in three-plus innings.

In the first inning, the defense behind Balester ended up hurting him. After Skip Schumaker led off the inning with a double, Colby Rasmus hit a routine fly ball to left fielder Adam Dunn, who caught the ball but let it drop to the ground while trying to make a throw to third base. The miscue allowed Schumaker to advance to third.

Mark DeRosa followed and hit a slow roller to Balester, allowing Schumaker to score.

In the next inning, Rick Ankiel gave St. Louis a two-run lead with a home run. In the fourth inning, with a runner on first and Ankiel at the plate, the rain came down. The delay lasted one hour and 16 minutes.

Play resumed with right-hander Tyler Clippard on the mound for Washington. The Cardinals added two more runs in the inning. Joe Thurston doubled home a run, while Schumaker walked with the bases loaded.

Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright was solid on the mound, lasting six innings and giving up one run on eight hits. The lone run scored in the sixth inning, when Alberto Gonzalez plated Dunn with a double to right field.

In the top of the seventh inning, Washington left-hander Ron Villone was able to get Schumaker to ground out for the first out of the inning. Rasmus came to the plate and worked the count to 2-1. That's when the rain came down again and play was stopped.

Around 10:58 p.m. ET, it was announced that that play would resume at 11:25.

The grounds crew took the tarp off the field, but minutes later, the rain came down again. The grounds crew did not put the tarp back on the field. Instead, they put a drying agent on the infield to keep it dry.

It eventually stopped raining, and by 11:30, crew chief Dana DeMuth went on the field to check the infield dirt. He then talked to Nationals interim manager Jim Riggleman about the condition on the field. After the conversation, DeMuth called the game at 11:40 p.m. This time, the delay was one hour and 30 minutes.

"[The last rain storm] didn't even show on [radar]," DeMuth said. "We pulled the tarp, and there was no rain when we pulled the tarp, and that little bit of rain that showed on the radar, we didn't know whether it would hit or not.

"So we pulled the tarp to work on the field, and then when it came, it wasn't supposed to be there more than four or five minutes, and it ended up being a 12-minute downpour. Then getting the tarp on, it was too late.

"The whole infield was an inch under water, and they put down an inch of dust trying to get it, to sop it up, and that only turned into mud."

Riggleman believed the game could have been played but understood why it was called.

"We were set at 11:25 for the next pitch, and there it was, there's the rain," the manager said. "It was coming pretty good. They couldn't get the tarp on. They were trying to fix the field while the rain was coming down. It all puddled up. I was trying to convince the umpires that we could get it dried up, but the umpire moved his foot around there and it showed that it was not going to be safe."

Riggleman, who grew up in Rockville, Md., couldn't believe how bad the weather has been at Nationals Park this season. Washington has had 11 rain delays at the park this season.

"It's strange because I'm from this area," Riggleman said. "I've been telling people all year. I don't remember ever being in this area and get rained out of a ballgame -- high school, college, summer league. A rainout was very seldom. That was in the days where there was no grounds crew to fix it up. We just didn't get that much rain. It's very out of the ordinary to go through this."

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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