Hudson sends Nationals up river

August 24, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Daniel Hudson fell one out short of his first career shutout Wednesday night, and the Arizona Diamondbacks turned another casual arrival at the ballpark into a win, beating the Washington Nationals 4-2.

Hudson (13-9) allowed nine hits, struck out six, walked none, had a run of 13 consecutive batters retired and threw 102 pitches. He had the Nationals blanked through 8 2/3 innings before giving up back-to-back homers to Laynce Nix and Jonny Gomes.

J.J. Putz came on to retire Wilson Ramos on a foul out to first for his 32nd save.

The Diamondbacks got two runs in the fourth inning and two more in the eighth after showing up later than usual and skipping batting practice for the second day in a row — manager Kirk Gibson’s way of getting everyone to relax after a six-game losing streak endangered Arizona’s lead in the NL West.

“We’re just trying to change things up,” Gibson said before the game, “and not try and stress out about what goes on around here.”

The score the previous night was 2-0, which means the Nationals were nearly blanked in back-to-back games by the Diamondbacks twice this season. Livan Hernandez (7-12) allowed four runs and seven hits with one walk and five strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings.

The Nationals nearly scored in the eighth after Ramos’ single and Ian Desmond’s double put runners on second and third with one out. But Rick Ankiel lined out to first, and Diamondbacks new acquisition John McDonald followed with a highlight play to preserve the shutout. The shortstop fielded Ryan Zimmerman’s chopper up the middle, did a 360 and threw a one-hopper to first baseman Lyle Overbay, who made a nice, clean snag that beat Zimmerman by a hair.

Arizona got on the board in the fourth when outfielder Gomes dropped the ball while taking it out of his glove on Chris Young’s double to the left field corner, an error that allowed Justin Upton to score from first. Overbay followed with an RBI single to right, just under the glove of first baseman Michael Morse.

In the eighth, Roberts and Gerardo Parra singled back to back to chase Hernandez, and Miguel Montero drove both runners home with a single off reliever Henry Rodriguez.

The Diamondbacks unveiled a new lineup, featuring the two players acquired the day before in a trade with Toronto. Aaron Hill started at second base, taking the spot held by Kelly Johnson, who was dealt to the Blue Jays, while McDonald was at shortstop.

Having played only in the other circuit, Hill and McDonald arrived in town early Wednesday and started on a crash course on all things National League — for a team in a pennant race.

“That’s the one thing I think it’s going to take the most getting used to, learning a lot of the new players,” McDonald said. “Being in the American League, you can put a lineup in front of me, I know where to go. I’ve got some studying to do.”

NOTES: Another milestone for Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg in his return from Tommy John surgery: He took batting practice Wednesday. Strasburg will pitch Saturday for Triple-A Syracuse in his fifth minor league rehab start, and it’ll be the first one in which he’ll have to hit. “He’s wanted to hit, but nobody’s been letting him,” manager Davey Johnson said. Strasburg likely has two starts left before making his much anticipated return to the majors sometime around Sept. 6. He threw a side session Wednesday before his BP. ... Zimmerman’s streak of 29 straight games reaching base came to an end. ... Nationals OF Jayson Werth sat out after leaving Tuesday’s game early with a strained groin. “He would play if we were in a pennant race or something,” Johnson said. ... Arizona’s starting infield of Hill, McDonald, 1B Overbay and 3B Roberts reunited a foursome that played together for the Blue Jays in 2007. “If that can help us win a game, I’ll be all excited about it,” Gibson said. ... The Diamondbacks designated INF Cody Ransom for assignment to make room for the players acquired in the trade.

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