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Storen losing what few leads Nats get

September 08, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Drew Storen has had an excellent first full season in the major leagues, pitching very effectively as the closer for the Washington Nationals. In the first game of a doubleheader against Los Angeles on Thursday, his outing was quite forgettable.

Storen (6-3) allowed three runs in the top of the ninth as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Nationals 7-4. The nightcap was rained out.

Entering the game with the score tied at 4, Storen got an out, hit Jerry Sands, allowed a single to Rod Barajas before striking out Trent Oeltjen. Tony Gwynn hit a long double to center to score Sands and Barajas. Dee Gordon added a run-scoring single — setting a career high with his fourth hit of the game.

The Dodgers have won 13 of 16 and the Nationals are a season-low 11 games under .500.

“He hasn’t had a lot of regular work the last part of the year,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said.

Storen has 34 saves and five blown chances.

“We haven’t had a whole lot of leads — so his work has been spotty. Sometimes that causes some command problems,” Johnson said.

Mike MacDougal (3-1), the Dodgers’ sixth pitcher, worked a scoreless eighth for the win and Javy Guerra got the last three outs for his 16th save. Six Los Angeles relievers held Washington hitless over the last 6 2-3 innings.

Juan Rivera hit two-run doubles in the first and third off Chien-Ming Wang to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.

Wang allowed four runs in six innings.

“I was very pleased. He was strong at the end,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to too much longer with him. He’s making progress.”

In his eighth start since missing more than two seasons with shoulder woes, Wang is trying to get into a quicker rhythm. He’s allowed many of his runs in the first inning.

“I’m going to try to get the warmup done earlier and get myself in a game situation earlier,” Wang said through a translator.

The Nationals tied the score at 4 in the bottom of the third off Chad Billingsley. Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse hit RBI doubles and Jayson Werth had a two-run home run — his 19th.

Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly yanked Billingsley after 2 1-3 — his shortest start in more than two years. Before allowing the four runs in the third, he walked the bases loaded in the second.

“We gave him some runs early then he walks three guys in one inning — got to locate — I don’t care who you are, you’ve got to locate,” Mattingly said.

NOTES: Johnson said he was resting 2B Danny Espinosa, who this week set a team record with seven straight strikeouts, because he was mentally tired. Stephen Lombardozzi got his first major league start. ... C Ivan Rodriguez, who was on the disabled list for nearly two months with an oblique strain, will be limited to pinch-hitting for the remainder of the season. Johnson wants to see more of Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores. ... Nats prospect Bryce Harper, who has a strained hamstring, won’t play in the Eastern League playoffs. ... Washington begins a three-game series with Houston on Friday. LHP Tom Millone (0-0), who hit a home run on his first major league pitch last Saturday, will pitch against RHP Bud Norris (6-9).

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