The Washington Times - June 19, 2011, 07:12PM

In losing their first game in 10 days and ending an eight-game winning streak, the Nationals abandoned the strengths. They played sloppy defense and their pitching wasn’t nearly as good as has come to be expected. They lost, and they failed to reach the .500 mark. Still, it was tough for them to be too discouraged.

Here’s some reaction from the clubhouse about where the team’s at after game No. 72:

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Jayson Werth: “We’ve been playing good ball. We dropped a game today but we won the series and we’re having a good homestand. Got a day off to rejuvenate a little bit and get back on the horse on Tuesday. Not going to win every game, that’s for sure, but we battled a little bit and were just on the other side of this one.

“We’ve had a pretty good mentality the last six weeks, two months, I’d say the guys in here come to play every day, they play hard and things are looking up. We’re going in the right direction. I like where we’re at, I like where we’re going, a lot to build on. A lot of good things going on around here and it’s starting to be fun.”

Ryan Zimmerman: “We’re growing up a little bit. It’s still a relatively young team with guys learning how to play, including myself. It’s fun when you go through (winning streaks like that), because those are the things you want to experience. You want to learn what it feels like to go through that. And we want to go through that a lot more. We learn what kind of baseball you have to play to win that many games in a row, and just go from there.

“We’ve just got to continue to win series. I think that’s our goal. We’ve got to get back to playing the kind of baseball we were when we on that streak. We know. It was sloppy today, and that’s the reason we lost. You don’t deserve to win when you play like that. We learn from it. We move on, forget about it and move on to Tuesday.

“You’re going to have a couple of games where you play terribly defensively. You’re going to have a couple games where you have 12 people left on base and you don’t hit very well. The thing is, you’ve just got to learn and realize that’s why you lost the game. When we won all those games in a row, it’s because we were playing good defense and doing the little things right. I think we all realize it’s going to happen. We’re not at all worried about it.”

Jim Riggleman: “It’s been a good stretch and as I’ve said from Day 1, I thought we played really good baseball and didn’t win some games because we hadn’t gotten on track offensively. But we put things together there for a couple weeks and continued to play well when we did hit. We pitched good, the bullpen’s done a good job. We certainly would have liked to have gotten out of there today with a win and had the off day tomorrow but you just have to crank it back up Tuesday and see if we can get it going again.”