- The Washington Times - Monday, May 2, 2005

The Washington Nationals couldn’t complete a three-game sweep of the New York Mets last night, dropping the series finale 6-3 and losing their only left-handed pitcher along the way before 27,333 at RFK Stadium.

With the score tied 3-3 tie in the ninth, Miguel Cairo put the Mets ahead with a base-loaded sacrifice fly off reliever Luis Ayala and Carlos Beltran followed with a two-run double over the head of left fielder Ryan Church for the winning runs.

But Washington suffered possibly a far greater loss two innings earlier, when left-handed relief pitcher Joey Eischen broke his right arm while trying to field a ground ball.

Nationals starter John Patterson, despite not having his best stuff, kept his team in the game for six innings before turning the ball over to Eischen at the start of the seventh. Eischen’s stint was short-lived.

Facing pinch hitter Kaz Matsui, Eischen dived to field a chopper to the right of the mound. Eischen came down hard on his right shoulder and was in visible pain as Matsui reached first.

Eischen was on the ground for several minutes as the trainers, team doctors, manager Frank Robinson and pitching coach Randy St. Claire rushed to the mound. A cart was brought on the field to take Eischen off but he walked back to the dugout with the help of St. Claire and team doctor Bruce Thomas.

He was taken to Washington Hospital Center, where he was X-rayed and diagnosed with a broken right radius. He is scheduled to be operated on at 3 p.m. today by team orthopedic doctor Wiemi Douoguih, and club officials said Eischen likely will be out of action eight to 12 weeks.

“I saw the same thing you guys saw,” Robinson said. “I saw him come down on his right shoulder and right arm. … We lost a key part of the bullpen. That’s a big blow to us.”

Eischen is the third Nationals reliever hurt this season, the others being Antonio Osuna and T.J. Tucker. And with Joe Horgan being demoted nearly two weeks ago, two-thirds of the Washington bullpen will have been turned over since the start of the season. Eischen was the only left-hander on the staff.

“Joey is a big part of the team and a clubhouse leader. He will definitely be missed in the clubhouse,” Patterson said.

The Nationals begin a nine-game West Coast trip tonight against the Los Angeles Dodgers with yet another key bullpen loss.

With the loss against the Mets, the Nationals finished their six-game homestand with a 3-3 record and an overall home record of 7-6. Last night’s crowd of 27.333 put the Nationals’ season total at 398,741 — an average of 30,673 a game.

Patterson never seemed to quite be in sync. He was hit hard in the first inning. Jose Reyes led off by driving a 1-2 pitch into center field that Brad Wilkerson managed to run down for the first out. But Cairo’s line drive to center fell in for a single, and Cairo moved to third on Beltran’s single down the right field line under first baseman Nick Johnson’s glove.

With Cliff Floyd at the plate, the Mets managed to score a run when Beltran got caught in a rundown trying to steal second. Patterson threw to Johnson, who threw to shortstop Cristian Guzman at second. While Guzman ran nearly all the way to first base and dove to tag Beltran out, Cairo managed to safely cross home to put the Mets on top 1-0. It was just the second first-inning run Patterson has allowed in five starts.

Catcher Gary Bennett, getting the start in place of Brian Schneider, led off the third inning with a single to left off starter Aaron Heilman and moved to second on a single by Guzman. Patterson advanced both runners with a perfect sacrifice bunt and Brad Wilkerson walked to load the bases.

Johnson, after nearly being knocked down by a from Heilman, hit a line drive to right center field, scoring Bennett and Guzman to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead. Heilman walked Jose Vidro to load the bases for Jose Guillen, who drove home his 15th run of the season with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Wilkerson for a 3-1 Washington lead.

In the fourth, Beltran hit a one-out double to right and came around to score when Floyd hit a line drive that went all the way to the left-center field wall for a double, cutting Washington’s lead to 3-2. Floyd extended his hitting streak to a major-league leading 17 games. He came around to score to tie the game at 3-3 when Wright singled to left.

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