Since baseball returned to Washington two years ago, Livan Hernandez has won more games at RFK Stadium -- 12 -- than anyone. Yesterday, in his final appearance at the ballpark, Hernandez pitched the Arizona Diamondbacks to victory.
Hernandez took a no-hitter into the sixth inning until Ryan Zimmerman broke it up with a ground-rule double to right-center field. The announced 17,224 who braved the cold saw a vintage Hernandez. The crafty right-hander shut out the Nationals through seven innings and allowed just three hits. He walked three and struck out one on 105 pitches.
"That's Livo being Livo," Nationals center fielder Ryan Church said.
Hernandez (1-0), the Nationals' Opening Day starter in 2005 and 2006, said he took no extra joy in blanking his former team.
"I'm not that kind of guy," said Hernandez, who was dealt Aug. 7 for pitchers Matt Chico and Garrett Mock. "I've got a lot of good memories here, and I've got a lot of friends on the team. [Nationals manager] Manny Acta is a good friend of mine."
Lopez's streak ends
Nationals shortstop Felipe Lopez had his season-opening, six-game hitting streak snapped by Hernandez and the Diamondbacks.
"I still feel pretty good," Lopez said after going 0-for-4 with a walk. "I hit them right at people."
For the season, Lopez is hitting .300 with a .344 on-base percentage.
"As Felipe goes, we can go, too," Acta said.
It would have been impossible to predict the switch-hitting Lopez would enjoy such a fine start based on his spring training numbers. In 22 Grapefruit League games, Lopez hit just .185 with a .247 on-base-percentage.
"In spring training, I was just concentrating on getting good at second base," Lopez said. "That's all I was worried about. I was putting all my focus to second and try and get good over there."
During spring training, the Nationals converted Lopez into a second baseman, with shortstop Cristian Guzman returning this season from shoulder surgery. However, Guzman injured his left hamstring on Opening Day, and the Nationals were forced to move Lopez back to short.
Flores' first start
To give catcher Brian Schneider a day off, Acta gave 22-year-old backup catcher Jesus Flores his first major league start and batted him eighth in the order. Until yesterday, Flores had been relegated to two pinch-hit appearances.
Flores, taken in the Rule 5 draft out of the New York Mets' organization, went 0-for-1 with a walk yesterday. With the game still within reach and the Nationals trailing 2-0 in the seventh inning, Acta pinch hit Dmitri Young for Flores with one out and runners on first and second.
Flores was one of the club's top hitters in spring training, when he hit .484 with two home runs.
"I know I can hit. I know what I can do," Flores said.
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