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Unhappy Trails Continue for Nationals

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Oh, those overmatched Washington Nationals. Never mind that, after an 8-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night, Washington has now been outscored 53-18 this season. Forget that the team has fallen behind by at least 3-0 in every game and hasn't scored in the first three innings in every game.

The fact that is perhaps most surprising is that in eight games, Washington (1-7) has never led at the time of any pitch _ their only win came on a game-ending RBI single by Dmitri Young against Florida last Wednesday.

``We're still waiting for that lead,'' Washington manager Manny Acta said. ``We haven't gotten a lead yet.''

Matt Chico (0-1), slowed by flu, allowed four runs _ one earned _ and six hits in 4 2-3 innings. He was hurt by errors by Dmitri Young at first and Ronnie Belliard at shortstop, the latter a dropped popup that led to three unearned runs.

``There's only so much you can do about working on catching a throw, catching a popup,'' Acta said.

The news is much better for the Braves. Tim Hudson, whose ERA ballooned to a career-high 4.86 last season, pitched three-hit ball over seven innings to lower his ERA to 0.64 in two starts. Hudson (1-0) held the Nationals without a hit for 4 2-3 innings before Belliard blooped a single, striking out seven and walking one to lower his ERA to 0.64.

``It was no easy cookie for us out there,'' Acta said. ``It was Tim Hudson at his best. Too much Hudson for us, basically.''

In other NL games Monday, it was: Houston 4, Chicago 2; St. Louis 3, Pittsburgh 2; Los Angeles 2, Colorado 1; San Francisco 6, San Diego 5; Arizona 5, Cincinnati 4 in 11 innings; and Milwaukee 2, Florida 2 in 10 innings in a game suspended because of rain.

Jeff Francouer drove in five runs for Atlanta and Andruw Jones hit his first homer of the season for the Braves, who are 6-1 for the first time since winning seven of their first eight en route to the 1995 World Series title.

Mike Gonzalez and Chad Paronto combined to finish the four-hitter.

``I couldn't ask for a better start to my season,'' Hudson said. ``As a team we couldn't ask for a better start, either.''

Astros 4, Cubs 2

Chris Sampson pitched five shutout innings, and shortstop Cesar Izturis had three errors for the host Cubs.

Sampson (1-0) allowed three singles in his fourth major league start, his first this season.

Izturis, who won a Gold Glove in 2004 with the Dodgers, made back-to-back errors in the fourth and fumbled a leadoff grounder to start the fifth.

Jason Marquis (0-1), who allowed four runs on four hits and four walks in five innings.

Houston bunched four straight hits in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead. Morgan Ensberg doubled with one out, Lance Berkman singled, Carlos Lee hit an RBI single and Luke Scott followed with a two-run double.

Cardinals 3, Pirates 2, 12 innings

The Cardinals rallied from two runs down in the top of the ninth and Gary Bennett successfully gambled by running on a short fly ball to score the tiebreaking run in the 12th inning.

Bennett singled and Aaron Miles doubled with one out in the 12th against John Wasdin (0-1), the fifth Pirates pitcher. Skip Schumaker lifted a fly ball to left fielder Jason Bay, whose throw to the plate beat Bennett only to have catcher Ronny Paulino drop the ball.

Tom Gorzelanny pitched seven shutout innings in his second effective start in a row, but the Pirates couldn't hold a 2-0 lead in the ninth as Salomon Torres blew his first save opportunity in five chances. Scott Spiezio tied the game with a two-run single to right off Torres.

Marlins 2, Brewers 2, 10 innings, susp., rain

A rainstorm in Miami led to the first suspended game of the season under the new major league rule change.

Before this year, the game would have become an official tie game and would have been replayed from the start. Because of the change made during the offseason, it will be resumed Wednesday night in the top of the 11th inning and be followed by the finale of the three-game series.

Crew chief Doug Eddings suspended the game at 12:03 a.m. _ 32 minutes after the third delay began. The three delays totaled 1:42.

Dodgers 2, Rockies 1

Russell Martin's sacrifice fly in the eighth drove in Wilson Betemit with the winning run, and host Los Angeles won for the fifth time in six games.

Betemit walked against Byung-Hyun Kim (1-1) to start the eighth, and took third on a one-out single by Juan Pierre before Martin hit a 1-2 pitch to left field, deep enough to drive in Betemit.

Joe Beimel (1-0), the third Dodgers' pitcher, earned the victory, working out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the eighth.

Takashi Saito retired the Rockies in order in the ninth for his fourth save in as many chances.

Giants 6, Padres 5

Barry Bonds, back in the cleanup spot, hit an RBI single and scored a run, and visiting San Franciso snapped a four-game losing streak.

Right-hander Matt Morris (2-0) has both of the Giants' wins after beating the Padres for the second time in six days. He allowed two runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings, striking out three and walking four.

San Diego's Clay Hensley (0-2), who lost both of those games to Morris, allowed all six runs, four of them earned.

Adrian Gonzalez hit his second home run of the game with two outs in the ninth to pull the Padres within 6-5, but Armando Benitez earned his second save in as many chances by inducing Khalil Greene to fly to center field to end the game.

Diamondbacks 5, Reds 4, 11 innings

Scott Hairston hit the game-winning double in the 11th inning to extend host Arizona's winning streak to six games.

Conor Jackson singled with two outs off David Weathers (0-1), and Hairston drove a 2-1 pitch off the center-field wall to score Jackson without a play.

Juan Cruz (2-0) worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the 11th.

Reds outfielder Josh Hamilton, out of baseball for three years as he struggled with cocaine addiction, hit a two-run homer for his first major league hit.

Chad Tracy hit a three-run shot for the Diamondbacks.
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