- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Washington Nationals have lost 25 games this season, already many of them in excruciating fashion. Today’s 8-6 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, though, may have been the most excruciating yet.

Leading by a run in the eighth inning, the Nationals bullpen handed the game right back to the Phillies thanks to a single, a walk and perhaps the ugliest play made so far this season.

With runners on first and second and no one out, manager Manny Acta summoned right-hander Jesus Colome to face Pedro Feliz, who dropped a sacrifice bunt attempt down the third-base line. Both Colome and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman charged the ball, and it appeared Zimmerman got to it first.

Turns out, though, thatColome got the ball and fired a bullet toward first base. Second baseman Anderson Hernandez had moved over to take the throw but never saw Colome’s heave. The ball sailed all the way down the right-field line, allowing the tying and go-ahead runs to score with Feliz advancing all the way to third base as the announced crowd of 29,577 (largest at Nationals Park since Opening Day) groaned in disgust.

Joe Beimel later gave up an RBI double to pinch hitter Eric Bruntlett, the capper to Washington’s 12th blown save in 18 tries this season.

The Nationals were in position to salvage one victory in this four-game series, despite a ragged start by Jordan Zimmermann. The rookie right-hander allowed five earned runs in five innings but departed with the game tied because Phillies starter Chan Ho Park (who lasted only 1 1/3 innings) pitched far worse.

Washington took a 6-5 lead in the sixth on singles by Cristian Guzman and Nick Johnson and a sacrifice fly by Ryan Zimmerman.

One again, though, the Nationals’ bullpen was unable to preserve a late lead.