- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 20, 2005

NEW YORK — The Washington Nationals’ patience with struggling right-hander Ryan Drese may be starting to wear thin.

Drese, who is 0-5 with a 6.75 ERA over his last six starts, will be skipped the next time around the rotation, manager Frank Robinson said. With the Nationals off Monday, Drese won’t be needed to start again until Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“The time for trials and the time for forgiveness is over because we just don’t have enough games left,” said Robinson, whose club was a half-game out of the wild-card race entering last night’s game against the New York Mets. “We’ve got to have people going out to the mound and doing the job.”

Drese (3-6 with the Nationals, 7-12 overall this season) hasn’t done the job over the last month. His last win came July 8, and he was yanked after giving up four runs in just four innings Thursday night in Philadelphia.

The problem, Drese acknowledged, is with his best pitch: the sinker. He’s leaving it too far up in the zone, and opposing hitters are taking advantage of it.

“Some days, my ball just stays flat,” he said. “Being a sinkerball pitcher, I need to be down in the zone. It’s kind of like beating yourself.”

With the Nationals in the thick of a pennant race, Drese may have a hard time working his way back into a five-day routine. Because of off-days, Robinson said he may be inclined at some point to go to a four-man rotation.

Washington also could give a serious look to a handful of potential September call-ups from the minor leagues — most notably right-hander Armando Galarraga — to make a few starts in place of Drese.

Of the possibility of a four-man rotation, Robinson said: “It would have to be going down the stretch, maybe the last two or three weeks.”

Prime matchup

Tonight’s game at Shea Stadium features one of the better pitching matchups of the season: Mets ace Pedro Martinez against Nationals ace Livan Hernandez.

Washington has faced Martinez just once this year — July 5 at RFK Stadium — and actually beat him 3-2 behind a superb outing from Esteban Loaiza.

Robinson doesn’t think it’s coincidence his club played so well that night.

“You want to show people you can handle the best,” he said. “You don’t like facing him. But you want to go out and compete yourself. We’ll go out and compete tomorrow.”

That July 5 game also featured a dugout confrontation between Jose Guillen, Loaiza and catcher Brian Schneider. Guillen, who was plunked by Martinez in the first inning, was upset Loaiza didn’t subsequently throw at any Mets players.

Both Robinson and Guillen said they don’t expect any carryover tonight at Shea.

Extra bases

Jamey Carroll got his second-straight start at shortstop last night, but Robinson insisted it’s not a sign he plans to bench Cristian Guzman with any regularity. Rather, Robinson said he wanted to reward Carroll for his 2-for-3 performance in Thursday night’s win. …

Reliever Hector Carrasco, who bruised his right shoulder Wednesday trying to chase down a ball during batting practice, played catch before last night’s game and said he thinks he’s ready to return. Carrasco added he doesn’t plan to go lunging into the wall after any more batting-practice balls. Robinson’s reaction to the way Carrasco got hurt: “How stupid can you be?” …

When Loaiza starts tomorrow’s series finale against the Mets, it will mark the 18th time in his career he has pitched on short rest. Loaiza, who last started Wednesday, is 10-2 with a 4.38 ERA in his previous 17 such starts, according to Stats Inc. Further proof he isn’t fazed by quick turnarounds: He has the same ERA (4.58) pitching on three days’ rest as four days’ rest.

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