The Washington Times - July 9, 2008, 10:13AM

First, a friendly reminder to please join me today at 1 p.m. for our weekly live chat. I imagine there are a few subjects you’re all interested in. Go to the site now and submit your questions in advance.

But about those Nats … if you’re going to reach the lowest point in 3 1/2 seasons in D.C. (34-57, 23 games under .500) you might as well do it in spectacular fashion. Washington’s 2-0 loss to the Diamondbacks last night was bad enough — Brandon Webb clearly was off yet didn’t allow a run, Arizona’s only two runs both came thanks in part to errors — but this one will be remembered most for Odalis Perez and Angel Hernandez. Twice in a span of minutes in the third inning, Perez was called for a balk by plate umpire Hernandez, the second of which set the pitcher off on a rant that got him ejected. After the game, Perez went off even more on Hernandez, calling him “just stupid, an idiot” among other things that can’t be printed.

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Odalis claimed Hernadez has it in for him and that this was the fourth time this ump has called him for a balk in his career. So, was Perez right? Well, Ben Goessling and I have gone back and looked at all 16 times Perez has been called for a balk in his career. And last night indeed was the fourth time it happened with Angel Hernandez on site. There’s no way to know whether Hernandez was actually the guy who made the call in each instance, but here are all the instances when it’s happened:

* April 27, 1999 — Braves vs. Pirates

* June 24, 2003 — Dodgers vs. Giants

* April 21, 2006 — Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks

* July 8, 2008 — Nationals vs. Diamondbacks (twice)

What did Hernandez have to say about all this? Well, he declined (through a Nationals spokesman) to speak to a pool reporter after the game last night. We may try again to get a comment from him today. What I found more interesting, however, than the balk calls or Perez’s profanity-filled postgame rant, was Manny Acta’s take on the whole situation. Acta, as we all know, doesn’t know the meaning of the word frustration. But take a look at these quotes and tell me the manager wasn’t the equivalent of frustrated after last night’s game…

On the balk calls: “Just a little mind-boggling to me that this guy takes the mound for us every five days and nobody else calls a balk on him, and this guy drops two on him in one night. But it didn’t make a difference because we didn’t score any runs anyways.”

On Perez’s emotional reaction/ejection: “Of course I understand his reaction, but where did his emotions get us? They didn’t erase the balks. They didn’t put a run on the board. Meanwhile, we kill our bullpen. Everybody has a different DNA. I guess not everybody can control their emotions, but that really didn’t help us.”

On the Nats’ inability to score off Webb: “I didn’t even think he had his best stuff tonight. He left a lot of pitches up in the zone. When he had to, he made pitches, and we just weren’t patient enough. We chased pitches out of the zone in those situations.” Needless to say, these are not happy times in the Nationals clubhouse.