- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2006

It’s starting to look a lot like April again.

The recently rampaging Washington Nationals have fallen into another tailspin, losing 14-8 last night to the Colorado Rockies at RFK Stadium and summoning up memories of their 8-17 record during the season’s first month.

The Rockies pummeled the Nationals by matching their season high with 18 hits. The Nationals (30-37), who have lost three straight and four of their last five, will try to avoid a four-game series sweep by Colorado today when ace Livan Hernandez faces Rockies right-hander Jason Jennings.

“What concerns me right now, it looks like we’re falling back into the same rut we were in before,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. “That bothers me, because we worked too hard to try to get out of it. That was a deep, deep hole we dug for ourselves.”

Former Nationals utilityman Jamey Carroll inflicted wholesale damage on his ex-teammates by going 3-for-4 with a home run, two walks, and four runs. Matt Holliday went 4-for-6 with four RBI and two runs scored. Outfielder Cory Sullivan tied a major league record with four sacrifice bunts.

Tony Armas Jr. had been the staff’s most consistent starter this season, but the Rockies (33-32) lit him up for seven runs in three-plus innings. Rookie reliever Bill Bray (1-1) took the loss, allowing five runs on eight hits and one walk in two innings.

In five of his previous six starts, Armas topped the 100-pitch plateau and lasted beyond the fifth inning in just three of those starts. By the end of the third inning last night, Armas had thrown 74 pitches and couldn’t protect a 3-0 lead.

The Rockies roughed up Armas with a five-run third inning to take a 5-3 lead. The big blow came from Garrett Atkins, who hit a three-run homer into the Rockies’ left-field bullpen. After Armas surrendered back-to-back singles to pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim and Carroll to open the fourth, Robinson was forced to yank him.

“We scored eight runs and that should have been more than enough, but the pitching just didn’t do the job tonight,” Robinson said.

The Nationals’ hitters at least did their part, adding three runs in the third for a 6-5 lead. It was the second lead the Nationals handed Armas — and the second he failed to protect. The Rockies scored another three runs in the fourth for an 8-6 lead.

Robinson brought in right-hander Jon Rauch to clean up the mess Armas had left. With one out, Holliday drilled a two-run single to left.

For Armas, it was his second-shortest outing of the season. Only a 21/3-inning performance May 3 against the last-place Florida Marlins at RFK outdid this performance.

“I wasn’t able to do my job,” Armas said.

Luckily for Armas, he didn’t factor into the decision because Kim, his side-arming rival, was just as bad, allowing eight runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings. The Nationals jumped all over the Korean-born right-hander in the second inning, as Armas delivered a run-scoring single for a 3-0 lead.

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