WASHINGTON: A change of scenery didn’t help the Detroit Tigers.
Anibal Sanchez’s fielding didn’t help them. Miguel Cabrera’s baserunning didn’t help them. And Brad Ausmus’ managing didn’t allow Victor Martinez to help them.
They pitched, they hit, but they blew a three-run lead and lost to the Nationals, 5-4, Monday night at Nationals Park, for their seventh straight loss.
Clint Robinson hit a pinch-hit, walk-off home run off Mark Lowe in the bottom of the ninth inning. It came one batter after Nationals superstar Bryce Harper was ejected from the dugout arguing balls and strikes.
Lowe took the loss after 1 2/3 excellent relief innings from righty Alex Wilson, and six-plus solid innings from Sanchez. They hit two home runs.
Nick Castellanos opened the scoring with a two-run home run in the first inning.
It came on a 96 mph fastball from Stephen Strasburg and went out to left field for Castellanos’ sixth home run of the season.
The Tigers padded their lead in the fifth inning, when J.D. Martinez hit a line-drive laser into the bullpen in left field. It was J.D. Martinez’s fourth of the season and first extra-base hit since April 29.
But their three-run lead couldn’t hold up when Sanchez ran into trouble in the seventh inning. He allowed a lead-off single to Michael A. Taylor, then another single to Danny Espinosa on a hit-and-run that evaded Ian Kinsler at second base, before the biggest blunder of the game.
With runners on the corners, nobody out and Strasburg sacrificing himself, Sanchez couldn’t field a slow bunt roller down the first base line that likely would have rolled foul. Instead, it bounced off Sanchez’s glove, into foul territory, and loaded the bases with nobody out.
Ausmus hooked Sanchez for Kyle Ryan, who allowed a sacrifice fly to Ben Revere to tie the game before righty Alex Wilson wiggled out of the jam with a strikeout looking and pop out.
The Tigers threatened in the eighth inning by putting the first two men on — Miguel Cabrera walked and Castellanos singled — but Cabrera was thrown out trying to advance to third base on a wild pitch and Justin Upton struck out looking.
Then Ausmus erred by pinch-hitting Victor Martinez with first base open, allowing Nationals manager Dusty Baker to intentionally walk him. With their best pinch-hitter burned, Ausmus opted for Jarrod Saltalamacchia over Anthony Gose. He struck out swinging.
Sanchez allowed four runs on six hits over six-plus innings. He struck out two and walked three.