The Washington Times - July 1, 2009, 06:19PM

This day began with news of Elijah Dukes being sent down to Syracuse and Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett catching an early morning flight from Pittsburgh to join their new teammates.

It ended in a very familiar fashion: Leading 3-2 in the seventh, the Nationals bullpen (with Burnett playing a key role) gave up three runs, resulting in a 5-3 loss to the Marlins. That’s 10 straight games Washington has lost to Florida, 23 of 26 dating back to last season. Staggering.


“It’s frustrating,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “They’re a team that’s definitely doing the little things right. That’s what we need to do if we want to win.”

The Nats certainly didn’t do the little things right today. They stranded 13 men on base, eight in the first four innings alone, which elicited some rare strong words from Manny Acta. “Right now our situational hitting just flat-out stinks,” the manager said. “It’s killing us.”

Zimmerman committed his third error in two days and now has 13 for the season (tied with Chipper Jones and Emilio Bonifacio for the most among all third basemen). “It’s frustrating, obviously,” he said. “Nobody wants to make errors, and I’m trying hard not to. But you realize you go through things like that once a season probably. It’s my goal not to let it happen. But unfortunately it did. Now you have to forget about it and move on.”

Jordan Zimmermann, meanwhile, continues to pitch really well … and have nothing to show for it. Over his last five starts, he’s got a 2.11 ERA and hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs once. Yet his record over that time is 1-1. “This kid, over the last two months, he’s been just pretty much lights out every five days,” Acta said. “We like that this guy goes out there and doesn’t walk anyone and goes after guys. He gave us a tremendous effort today.”

As for that bullpen, well, all you need to know is that Nationals relievers are now 7-27 with a 5.71 ERA and 19 blown saves in 30 chances. “It is really tough, because we’ve got young starting pitchers and they go out there and go six or seven innings,” Julian Tavarez said. “They’ve been doing good. When you go out there and you’re not able to get the job done for them, it’s very disappointing.”