Botched bunt looms large in Nats' 3-1 loss

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Livan Hernandez is a lifetime .227 hitter — unimpressive for a position player, decidedly more praiseworthy for a pitcher. So when he decided to bunt with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth inning of the Nationals’ game against the Padres on Monday night, it caught interim manager Jim Riggleman by surprise.

Hernandez already had a hit and a run, and Riggleman expected him to swing away with the Nationals down one. Instead, he couldn’t handle a Tim Stauffer cutter, tapped a weak bunt back to the mound and started a 1-2-3 double play that killed the Nationals’ rally and deflated their best rally in a 3-1 loss to the Padres.

“We were hoping to get something out of that. He’s a pretty good hitter,” Riggleman said. “He decided to bunt. That kind of took everybody by surprise. That being the case, he didn’t bunt it where he wanted to bunt the ball. If he had to do it over, I’m sure he’d swing the bat.”

Hernandez said he’s done that many times in his career with his team down by a run, and didn’t sound hesitant to try it again in the future should the opportunity present itself. Still, on Monday night it cost him, when he was sharp on the mound for the second straight outing and pitched an eight-inning complete game in the loss.

“The pitch he threw me, it was down and very nasty,” Hernandez said. “It looked like a spring training play. We do that all the time.”

Game 2 of this series is at 10:05 Eastern tomorrow—J.D. Martin against Clayton Richard. Talk to you then.

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