The Washington Times - September 2, 2009, 07:50PM

The Nationals have played nine games in three cities in the last nine days, and the effects of that run were apparent on Wednesday afternoon. They recorded just four hits in a 7-0 shutout against the Padres, fielding a lineup that included almost as many recent call-ups (three) as position players on the Opening Day roster (four). John Lannan threw four shutout innings, but gave up five runs in the fifth. And Washington left the West Coast looking very much like a team in need of a day off.

“I think you go through bad stretches, enjoy the day off and come back ready to work,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “We’ve got a good September schedule, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage, be rested and finish strong.”


Kevin Correia set down 19 in a row against the Nationals, and Lannan allowed five hits and an intentional walk with two outs in the fifth, which is where the game got out of control. Other than that, he was sharp, getting nine ground-ball outs and three strikeouts in the first four innings, even though he walked three.

“He pitched a lot better than the linescore will show,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said.

Couple notes to wrap this one up:

—Right-hander Craig Stammen will have an MRI on his right elbow tomorrow and miss his scheduled start Friday. Garrett Mock will pitch in Stammen’s place instead. Stammen said he has been pitching with some elbow tightness for part of the season, and with the rookie nearing a preset innings limit, the Nationals decided to rest him now. Neither Stammen nor Riggleman seemed particularly worried about the elbow, but then, nobody was raising any alarms about Jordan Zimmermann either. We’ll keep you posted.

—General manager Mike Rizzo said Victor Garate, the left-handed reliever the Nationals claimed off waivers from the Dodgers as the player to be named later in the Ronnie Belliard trade, could be a future setup man for the Nationals. He’ll join the team and finish the season in the majors after posting a 2.04 ERA for Class AA Chattanooga.

“We see a guy who’s a versatile relief pitcher, could be a setup-type of guy,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “He’s got good stuff with good command, and a funky delivery that fools some hitters.”

Rizzo said Garate delivers the ball between a three-quarters and low three-quarters arm slot, which makes him hard to read for left-handers especially. He throws in the low 90s, with a breaking ball and changeup. “He’s a stuff guy. He’s not a finesser,” Rizzo said. “He’s got good stuff, and he commands it well.”

Off-day tomorrow, and we’re back at it on Friday for a three-game series against the Marlins. Get ready for plenty of the NL East—the only non-division series left is against the Dodgers later this month.