- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tim Redding has endured enough of baseball’s waxing and waning cycles not to get too keyed up over whispers that he might be the Washington Nationals‘ most tradeable commodity. So as he took the mound on the eve of the trade deadline, there was no remorse in his voice over an outing that doubled as his final audition for any contending team shopping for a starting pitcher.

If anything, the source of frustration was a succession of mistakes that cost Redding a chance to beat a team he’s mastered twice already this year.

Taking a 3-2 lead into the fifth against the Philadelphia Phillies, Redding gave up a big inning that staked the visiting Phillies to an 8-5 win.

“Without those five runs, we might win the game,” Redding said. “I think I just pitched poorly enough that anybody who might be interested is no longer interested. As far as I’m concerned, I’m going to be a Washington National the rest of this year.”

The loss was Washington’s eighth in a row and dropped Redding’s record to 7-6. He is the only Nationals starter with a winning record but could see that distinction fade as soon as Monday’s game at Colorado.

Redding failed to make it past the fourth inning for the second time in three starts. A number of mistakes in close enough proximity to each other defined this outing just like Redding’s last four-inning effort against the Atlanta Braves on July 18.

He surrendered four straight singles in the first inning, getting out of it with only two runs allowed after inducing a double play from Geoff Jenkins.

But if Redding’s outing had been shaky from the start, the fifth inning pushed it into the territory of grisly. He failed to retire any of the five Phillies batters he faced in the frame, a walk to pitcher Jamie Moyer serving as the accelerant for an inning that erupted when Chase Utley sent a hanging curveball to the center-field seats.

“I walked a 45-year-old pitcher,” Redding said. “That’s completely inexcusable, and we all saw what happened after that. Base hit, base hit, home run, end of the ballgame for me. With the top of the order coming, you’ve got to be a little more careful with how you pitch those guys. These guys score a lot of runs quite a bit, so you’ve got to limit the damage as much as possible. Unfortunately, I didn’t do that tonight.”

Utley’s homer gave Philadelphia a 7-3 lead and ended Redding’s night after he had given up five runs in the fifth. It marked the 10th time this season the right-hander has given up three or more runs in an inning.

“He tends once in a while to self-destruct in those types of innings,” manager Manny Acta said. “Today it was walking the pitcher when he’s trying to give him an out.”

The inning eradicated most of the Nationals’ hope for winning after they scored three runs in the first inning.

Willie Harris started the game with Washington’s first leadoff homer since May 8, 2007, hammering a first-pitch fastball to center field. Austin Kearns followed with a two-out double, and Jesus Flores hit a two-run homer to left, giving the Nationals a 3-2 lead after one inning.

“We came right out of the break swinging the bats like nobody’s business. We went out on the West Coast and kind of went backward,” said Harris, whose home run total this season (eight) is one more than his career total before this year. “But we jumped out on Moyer tonight early, and they jumped out on us early. We just had a grind all night. We were like, ‘OK, here we go.’ And then we didn’t get a hit for like two or three innings.”

Washington’s next hit came in the fifth, one of two doubles Harris would get in addition to his home run. But by then, the Nationals trailed by four runs. They gave up another when Steven Shell surrendered a homer to Shane Victorino in the seventh, ending his scoreless streak at 15 innings. Two more Nationals runs in the seventh were all they would get.

“We couldn’t hold them,” Acta said. “We felt today we were going to score some runs.”

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