- The Washington Times - Monday, October 5, 2009

ATLANTA | The most consistent slugger in baseball came up two home runs short of his usual benchmark.

For the first time in six seasons, Adam Dunn did not reach the 40-homer mark. The Washington Nationals first baseman hit his 38th on Sept. 23 but went cold after that and wasn’t even in the starting lineup for Sunday’s season finale.

Dunn had told interim manager Jim Riggleman he wanted the day off to allow younger teammates a chance to play. He did wind up pinch hitting in the seventh inning and roped a run-scoring single to right off Atlanta Braves starter Tim Hudson for his 105th RBI.

Only three players in major league history have hit 40 or more homers in six consecutive seasons: Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa.

“Yeah, it would have been cool, and yeah, I should have hit 40 this year,” Dunn said. “But I didn’t. I’m not going to sit there and cry about it. Numbers - and I mean it when I say this - they don’t mean anything unless you win. If you win, then you should get the accolades. But if you lose 100-something games, who cares?”

In his first season with Washington, Dunn wound up with 38 homers, 105 RBI, 116 walks, 177 strikeouts and a .267 average, which was 20 points higher than his career average entering this year.

Riggleman said he doesn’t believe Dunn’s slightly diminished power numbers diminish his overall season in any way.

“The round number aspect of it is fun for people to look at, but I think Adam realizes that he and Ryan Zimmerman in the middle of that lineup are pretty formidable,” Riggleman said. “And when he sticks 38 homers out there along with Ryan’s 33, that’s a pretty good year we got out of the middle of our lineup.”

Martin finishes strong

Lost in Sunday’s 15-inning marathon was another strong start by J.D. Martin. The right-hander allowed one run over six innings to cap what turned out to be an impressive rookie season.

Martin wound up 5-4 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts, and he allowed three earned runs or less in nine of his last 11 outings.

“It was an awesome experience,” said Martin, who spent eight years in the Cleveland Indians’ farm system before finally making his big league debut this year with Washington. “I was happy to just get the opportunity at all. To be able to get that many starts in, which was kind of a surprise to me, that’s awesome for me.”

Final season numbers

Dunn finished as the Nationals’ home run leader with 38, but Zimmerman edged him out for the team RBI title with 106.

Zimmerman also led club regulars with a .292 batting average and ranked fourth in the National League with 110 runs and fifth in the league with 320 total bases.

For the second time in three years, no Washington pitcher reached double digits in wins. John Lannan led with a 9-13 record.

As a team, the Nationals finished ninth in the NL with a .258 batting average, 156 homers and 710 runs scored. They were last in the NL with a 5.00 ERA.

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