- The Washington Times - Friday, August 19, 2005

PHILADELPHIA — Washington Nationals manager Frank Robinson said last night Esteban Loaiza will pitch Sunday on three days’ rest.

Loaiza, who lost to the Phillies 4-3 on Wednesday, said he has no problem with the short rest.

“Why not? I’ve done it before,” Loaiza said.

Robinson had said he wanted to see the effects of yesterday’s doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies on his pitching staff before naming a starter for Sunday’s game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.

He was reluctant to give left-hander John Halama the nod because of the outside chance he might be needed to pitch extended innings. Starter Tony Armas Jr. managed to last five innings in the first game yesterday despite a couple of rocky innings, but Halama entered in the fifth of the second game after Ryan Drese had fallen behind 4-0.

Halama allowed a hit and no runs in the inning, and he was pinch hit for in the sixth.

“As of now, I’m in the bullpen, so I don’t know what I’m doing [Sunday],” Halama, who was called up from Class AAA New Orleans, said before the game.

The Nationals signed Halama on Aug. 5 as a precaution after long reliever Sun-Woo Kim was claimed off waivers by the Colorado Rockies. If Halama ever does start for the Nationals, he would become the first left-hander to start for the franchise since it moved to Washington.

Halama began the season with the Boston Red Sox and went 1-1 with a 6.18 ERA in 30 appearances. The Red Sox designated Halama for assignment July 26.

“I wasn’t too comfortable. There were times when I was, but if you look at it, I had three relief appearances in July, so that in itself isn’t grounds for much success,” Halama said. “I had my moments when I was pitching a lot and had success, and then times when I didn’t pitch is where I kind of found myself in some trouble. … When you pitch once every seven or eight days, it’s kind of tough to stay as sharp as you can.”

Carrasco unavailable

The Nationals’ bullpen was a man short after right-handed reliever Hector Carrasco bruised his right shoulder while shagging fly balls during Wednesday night’s batting practice.

X-rays were negative yesterday.

Carrasco said he made a leaping catch in left-center field on a Preston Wilson blast and slammed shoulder-first into the wall at Citizen Bank Park.

“I think it’s bruised. I can throw pretty good,” Carrasco said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal.”

However, Carrasco was unable to commit to pitching this weekend against the Mets before speaking to team physicians.

In 46 relief appearances this season, Carrasco is 3-3 with a 2.53 ERA and two saves in 46 1/3 innings.

Making history

The Kansas City Royals have lost 18 straight games, three short of the American League record held by the 1988 Baltimore Orioles.

That’s a team Nationals manager Frank Robinson remembers all too well. He took over as manager of the Orioles that year when Cal Ripken Sr. was fired after opening the season 0-6. Robinson promptly lost his first 15 games.

“I don’t think you could lose that many games in a row if you were trying to lose games,” Robinson said. “You come to expect something is going to happen to cause you to lose. You’re going to make a bad play, you’re going to make a bad pitch, you’re going to make a bad throw to the other team and they’re going to hit a home run in the ninth inning, those type of things. You just expect to lose. We just didn’t have a good ballclub. Then again, it’s hard to believe that you can lose that many games in a row and didn’t win one by luck.”

The modern major league record for consecutive losses is 23, set by the 1961 Phillies.

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