The Washington Times - May 19, 2009, 08:50PM

Two things are happening tonight that we haven’t seen much this season: Shairon Martis is giving up runs, and the Nats aren’t scoring many.

Martis had allowed more than three earned runs in only one of his previous seven starts this year, until he went out and gave up five in his first three innings tonight. Fortunately for the Nats, the rookie bounced back nicely from that ragged start to retire 10 straight since Andy LaRoche’s two-run homer in the third.

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Unfortunately for Martis, the Nats haven’t strung together enough offense to put him in line for the win. A Washington club that has scored at least five runs in each of its last nine games (never mind that their record over that span is 1-8) was pretty much shut down tonight by Jeff Karstens.

Adam Dunn hit a solo homer over the left-field bullpen in the fourth, and that’s all the offense the Nats had until the sixth, when they finally started stringing together some hits. Ryan Zimmerman led off with a bunt single (yes, he even does that well). Zim wound up scoring on Willie Harris’ single up the middle, and Harris scored on Anderson Hernandez’s triple down the right-field line. Throw in a Wil Nieves RBI single and the lead has been cut to 5-4.

But, in a move that will require a postgame question I’m sure, Manny Acta pinch hit for Martis with two outs in the sixth and a man on first. Ronnie Belliard wound up striking out on three pitches. So Martis (who only threw 85 pitches) is out of the game, and it’s up to the Nats bullpen to keep this thing close.