Livan: 'It's 99.9 percent I'm not going to pitch no more'

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Perhaps Livan Hernandez was frustrated by
giving away a lead in a loss to the NL-worst Colorado Rockies. Or
by tying a modern major-league record by hitting four batters. Or
maybe he was upset he was taken out after seven innings.

The Washington Nationals' All-Star pitcher wouldn't say exactly
what was bothering him or fully explain why he suddenly announced
after Wednesday night's 3-2 loss to the Rockies that he's
contemplating having right knee surgery that could end his season.

"I'm not happy for three years. After the season, I'm going to
tell you" why, said Hernandez, 12-4 with a 3.44 ERA and the
unquestioned staff ace.

"It's 99.9 percent I'm not going to pitch no more" this
season, he said. "I'm done, I think, so let's see what happens.
... I'll go to sleep and I'm going to make a decision tonight."

His right knee has been a nagging problem all year, and it was
drained May 16. But Hernandez said it's not bothering him enough to
affect his pitching -- nor was he told to have the knee worked on.

"It's not the doctors. It's me. I'm the doctor. I don't need
it, but I'm going to" have an operation, he said.

Pressed to explain why, Hernandez said: "I'm tired of
something. ... I'll tell you when the season's over. I'm mad."

Told of Hernandez's comments, Nationals manager Frank Robinson
said he didn't want to say much without hearing directly from his

"I have no idea who he's mad at," Robinson said.

Hernandez allowed a two-run homer to J.D. Closser in the sixth
inning that wiped out Washington's 2-1 lead and helped the Rockies
win a road series for the first time since September.

"It feels like it has been that long," Colorado manager Clint
Hurdle said. "It is an accomplishment."

Washington lost for the seventh time in nine games and saw its
NL East lead drop to a half-game over the Atlanta Braves, who
defeated San Francisco 4-1.

All of a sudden, the hallmarks of the Nationals' early success
are failing them: winning at home and winning close games. They
have lost five straight one-run decisions, and five of their last
seven games at RFK Stadium.

The Rockies, meanwhile, had lost 12 series and tied two on the
road. But they took two of three games in Washington, each by a

"To win two games in this series by one run is ironic,"
Closser said.

In the sixth, Hernandez plunked Desi Relaford -- who was hitless
in his preceding 29 at-bats. The next batter was Closser, who
yanked a 1-1 fastball into the visiting bullpen in right field.

Hernandez allowed three runs, eight hits and two walks. He's the
first NL pitcher to hit four batters in a game since Pedro Astacio
of Colorado at Arizona on April 22, 2001.

Jason Jennings (6-9) earned the victory, allowing two runs over
five innings. But the right-hander left after throwing just 70
pitches because he sprained the middle finger on his pitching hand
while sliding into second base after singling in the sixth.

Four relievers combined on four scoreless innings of relief,
with Brian Fuentes pitching the ninth for his 14th save. Fuentes
got pinch-hitter Vinny Castilla on a hard liner to short with
runners on the corners and two outs.

"Right at him," said Castilla, out of the starting lineup to
rest a left knee injury. "I did hit it good."

The Nationals led 2-0 after four innings, though they probably
ran themselves out of more in the first. That's when Jose Vidro was
thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple, and Brad
Wilkerson was doubled off first when he was running as a popup
sailed between the bag and right field.

The Rockies, meanwhile, were playing like a club that entered
the day 32-60 overall and 8-37 away from Coors Field -- the worst
road start since the 1963 Mets began 7-44.

They had a runner picked off second base and another caught
stealing. After Wilkerson struck out swinging for the first out of
the fourth, catcher Closser tried to whip the ball around the horn,
but his toss sailed into the outfield.

The next batter, Jose Guillen, hit a relatively routine grounder
to short, and Relaford's throw wound up in the stands for a
two-base error.

But the Nationals stranded Guillen. That became a pattern.

After Jamey Carroll's sacrifice fly in the third inning drove in
Baerga for Washington's second run, the hosts went 0-for-7 with
runners in scoring position.

"Any team you go against can beat you unless you're on top of
your game," Robinson said. "We're not on top of our game right

Game notes
Nationals LHP Mike Stanton made his 1,000th major league
appearance, the 10th pitcher to reach that milestone. ... Jennings
will have his finger X-rayed on Thursday in Pittsburgh.

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