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Old 05-31-2006, 07:05 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Armas, Nationals come up short again

Tony Armas Jr. has, by all accounts, been the Washington Nationals' best pitcher during this dreadful season.
Which isn't to say he has established himself as the staff ace.
For all his ability and success so far this year, Armas remains a confounding figure on the mound, one who perpetually teases the Nationals but never seems to be able to get over the hump.
Never was that more evident than in last night's 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, in which Armas tossed a gem before 23,805 at Citizens Bank Park.
Well, except for the towering, three-run homer he surrendered to Bobby Abreu in the fourth. And the bases-loaded walk he issued to opposing pitcher Brett Myers in the seventh, his final pitch of the evening.
OK, so Armas would have to have been perfect to outpitch Myers in this game. The Phillies' best starter dominated the Nationals, carrying a two-hitter into the eighth before Marlon Byrd finally broke up the shutout with a two-run homer to left.
By then, though, Washington already trailed by four runs, and Armas (5-3) was to blame for that.
With the Nationals' bullpen dangerously thin -- Joey Eischen and Santiago Ramirez were sent home to undergo MRIs, Jon Rauch continues to be plagued by a stomach ailment and Gary Majewski was unavailable after pitching six of the last eight days -- manager Frank Robinson needed an efficient outing from Armas.

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