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“They were fouling a lot of pitches off, then I’d throw a couple of balls,” Zimmermann said. “I was going deep in counts. I can’t be doing that. I just tried to keep the team in the game most of the night.”

That mistake tied the score at 1-1 and cost Zimmermann his shot at a win, though a little run support from his teammates would have helped.

The Nationals have been searching for clutch hits for almost a month now, and they again couldn’t find them Friday. Despite putting at least one man on base each of the first nine innings, they managed to score only once during that span: of all things, on Zimmermann’s fourth-inning, bases-loaded fielder’s choice.

Opportunities abounded, none better than the one that presented itself in the seventh, when Washington had runners on second and third with nobody out and the heart of the order stepping to the plate in Zimmerman, Dunn, Elijah Dukes and Josh Bard.

Somehow, none of the four managed to put the ball in play. Zimmerman struck out looking at a 3-2 breaking ball from Dirk Hayhurst. Dunn was intentionally walked to load the bases. Dukes then was caught looking at a 2-2 breaking ball from Fairfax native and George Mason alum Shawn Camp. Bard completed the painful inning by taking three straight balls from Camp to bring the crowd of 20,860 to its feet, only to subsequently take three straight strikes to end the inning and keep this game undecided a while longer.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen it before: three guys strike out with the bases loaded looking,” Acta said. “I’m sure that it has happened in the game before, but I haven’t seen it. We should be a little more aggressive in that type of situation and not let the umpire dictate your at-bat.”