The Washington Times - April 3, 2011, 07:09PM

Everything about Brian Broderick’s 2011 was going well.

The Nationals’ Rule 5 pick from the St. Louis Cardinals organization had never pitched above the Double-A level yet got through major league spring training with nine scoreless outings in 11 appearances and earned a spot on the big league roster.

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His debut, however, was another matter.

Broderick admitted to being nervous taking the mound for the first time in a major league ballpark and the aftermath wasn’t pretty. Broderick allowed four runs off two hits, a walk and balk in 2/3 of an inning — part of a six-run eighth that blew the doors off an 11-2 Nationals loss to the Braves.

He didn’t blame the results on those nerves, though.

“It didn’t get to me,” he said. “I fell behind guys and you can’t do that. When you fall behind you’ve got to throw strikes and they hit strikes.”

His welcome to the big leagues went like this: Jason Heyward slapped a ground ball single through the right side; Alex Gonzalez hit a chopper to third base that Ryan Zimmerman sent to second in an unsuccessful attempt to get Heyward; Freddie Freeman walked.

Then, with the bases loaded, Broderick’s cleat got stuck at the end of his delivery and he completed his motion without throwing the ball, thereby balking in the first earned run of his major league career.

“There was nothing I could do,” he said. “I was going to either throw it way over the catcher’s head or just not throw it at all.”

He eventually got Eric Hinske (the batter when he balked) to ground out and Martin Prado then flew out to right field for an RBI sacrifice. But the next batter, Nate McLouth, doubled, and Nationals’ manager Jim Riggleman came out to get the 24-year-old right-hander.

It’s not exactly how Broderick envisioned his career as a major league pitcher getting started — but he was positive after the game choosing instead to focus on his next opportunity.

“I’ve got to go more after hitters instead of being too fine,” he said. “It was good to get my feet wet the first time and I’ll come back stronger the second time.

“I’m at the highest level. I can’t be afraid pitching to these guys.”