The Washington Times - April 25, 2009, 07:16PM

Pretty ugly loss here today. The Nationals got down early, took their starter out before the end of the third inning and never really mounted much of a rally on Mets starter Mike Pelfrey.

The defensive problems have to be the most concerning thing among the many that went wrong in the 8-2 loss. The Nats lead the NL with 18 errors, one year after leading the NL with 123. They committed three more today, the big one coming in the first inning.

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Elijah Dukes, as I mentioned earlier today, had a routine fly ball drop about two feet behind him. He settled under it with two outs, thinking he had it, only to lose it in the sun. His sunglasses were on top of his cap, so that might have played into it; he put them over his eyes seconds later. The play cost the Nationals three runs — two on the David Wright fly ball that Dukes missed, and another one when Ryan Church singled Wright home. Manny Acta didn’t want to discuss it after tha game, though.

Asked about the error, Acta said, “Go ask him (about it). He’s out there (in the clubhouse). I can answer questions for me and my team. I’m not going to be answering everybody’s question.”

For a point of comparison, Acta talked at length about his impressions of the defensive problems Austin Kearns had in Friday’s game.

Dukes, when informed by a team spokesman that reporters wanted to talk to him, said, “What the (expletive) is there for me to talk about? If they don’t know baseball, they can kiss my (expletive). Now’s not the time to come ask me some (expletive) like that.”

Defensive miscues aside, Dukes had one of the few positive contributions on offense, going 2-for-4 and driving in two runs.

As for starter Daniel Cabrera, he struggled, and he said as much. He threw 86 pitches in 2 1/3 innings, giving up five runs (though only one was earned) while walking four and throwing a wild pitch. The issues he had were many of the same he’s always had, as Orioles fans can attest, but he didn’t get much help from his defense.

The Nats have now lost all eight of their road games this season, 16 in a row if you go back to last year. All 16 are against division teams. They’ll try to snap that streak tomorrow.