- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thanks to Aaron Crow’s stubbornness in not accepting a last-ditch contract offer late Friday night, the Washington Nationals own the 10th overall pick in next summer’s draft.

The only question now is whether Washington will supplement that compensatory pick with the No. 1 overall pick as well.

The way they’re playing, the Nationals’ chances look promising. With a 13-6 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night, their ninth straight, they feel further into the depths of the major league standings.

At 44-80, Washington has a the worst record in the big leagues, “ahead” of the Seattle Mariners (46-76) and the San Diego Padres (47-75, heading into a late-night game against the Phillies).

That’s probably the only race the Nationals can win this year, which puts a damper on the next six weeks but at least offers a glimmer of hope for the future.



However, the Nationals’ players don’t want to focus on the future now. They’d rather sacrifice 2009’s No. 1 draft pick for more victories in 2008.

“We don’t want to be the bottom of the barrel,” rookie first baseman Kory Casto said.

The Nationals this season have suffered three nine-game losing streaks. Opponents have outscored then 65-20 during this latest run.

Another Washington loss wasn’t surprising. But starter John Lannan representing one the chief reasons for the defeat was out of the ordinary.

One of the Nationals’ bright spots, the 23-year-old left-hander pitched well over the season’s first four months. Two weeks ago, his ERA stood at 3.33 and he owned 16 quality starts in 21 total outings.

It has been an unpleasant ride down since then. Lannan (6-12) surrendered six runs in a July 31 loss to the Phillies, and though he rebounded at Coors Field last week, the Rockies raised his ERA to 3.81 on Saturday.

“I’m not tired,” said the rookie hurler, who this season has thrown 141 2/3 innings. “Maybe tired of losing. It’s very frustrating to have the team go out there and hit, put six runs on the board, and you can’t keep your team in the ballgame. I’m tired of that.”

Lannan allowed two first-inning runs on three singles, a walk and two stolen bases. The Rockies added three more runs in the third and six in the fifth.

Nationals manager Manny Acta yanked Lannan in the fifth after he yielded two walks and an RBI single without recording an out. His replacement, rookie Garrett Mock, fared no better. Three more singles and two more walks meant the Rockies had eight straight batters reach base before making a single out.

By then, Colorado’s lead ballooned to 11-2 and many in the crowd either booed, headed for the exits or maneuvered up to the Red Loft bar above the center-field fence to enjoy the Olympics on TV and liquid refreshment.

Afterward, Acta offered a curt response when asked whether anything positive could come out of the game.

“It’s over,” he said. “Let’s play tomorrow.”

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