The Washington Times - July 21, 2011, 05:11PM

LOS ANGELES — July has not been a good month for Todd Coffey. The Nationals right-handed reliever has pitched seven innings since July 1, allowed 13 hits, 6 earned runs, walked four and struck out five. He’s only gotten 20 of the 37 batters he’s faced this month in eight appearances and the last two Nationals games have been decided on runs he’s allowed.

It all adds up to a 7.71 ERA this month. Generally, ERA is something of a flawed statistic when it comes to relievers and in this case this is partly true. Coffey’s only pitched seven innings so the runs earned are based on a small number of innings, leading to an inflated average. However, Coffey hasn’t inherited a runner all month. All of the runs he’s allowed have been products of his own sticky situations.

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“The bottom line is they got the hits and what they needed to do to win the game,” Coffey said Wednesday. “I blew it for us tonight. That’s two nights in a row that I let the team down and that falls on my shoulders. Trust me, no one feels as bad as I do.”

Coffey is a veteran reliever on a one-year deal who has drawn interest from other teams as the trade deadline nears. As Nationals manager Davey Johnson pointed out, Coffey’s “been a workhorse all year,” and his overall numbers aren’t entirely unattractive: 4.03 ERA in 38 innings pitched with just 14 percent of inherited runners scoring. But his recent track record isn’t doing him or the Nationals any favors when it comes to trying to move him before July 31.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what’s gone wrong for Coffey lately. He doesn’t seem to be getting hit extremely hard when he errs — even Wednesday, it was singles that did him in. There’s not much explanation to be offered right now, but it’s safe to say Coffey won’t shy away from offering one if he finds it.

The pitch to Jason Michaels hit for a game-winning single Wednesday “was a sinker down and away. I needed a strikeout or a groundout. I thought it was a good pitch but, to be honest, any pitch that gets hit is a bad pitch.”

– The Nationals officially cut ties with right-handed pitcher Chad Gaudin Thursday afternoon, issuing Gaudin his unconditional release. Gaudin, who was activated from the disabled list and designated for assignment on Tuesday, was 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA and two holds in 10 relief appearances for the Nationals this season. He went on the DL in April with right shoulder inflammation.

– The Nationals also released left-hander Matt Chico on Thursday according to the Eastern League’s transaction feed. Chico, who was acquired by the Nationals in 2006 as part of the trade that sent Livan Hernandez to Arizona and brought Garrett Mock to the organization. Chico pitched in 43 major league games for the Nationals, his last a five-inning start in 2010. He was 7-15 with a 4.95 ERA over parts of three major league seasons with the Nationals. He had been pitching most recently for Double-A Harrisburg where he was 1-1 with a 10.93 ERA in 14 relief appearances with Harrisburg.