Nats shut out suddenly punchless Rockies

Hero: Kearns hit his first homer in 53 games to make a winner out of Jon Rauch and the Nationals.

Unclutch: The Rockies, who haven't scored in 20 innings, went 0-for-26 with runners in scoring position in the series.

Famous last words: "I want to pitch to [Kearns]. I know this guy. This guy's an aggressive hitter. He swings at everything." -- Rockies' Jorge Julio on facing Kearns, who hit the game-winning homer off him.

-- ESPN.com news services

Nationals 3, Rockies 0

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Colorado Rockies couldn't get a single hit with runners in scoring position. Austin Kearns had no problem hitting in the clutch.

Kearns hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning and four Washington pitchers combined on a second consecutive shutout of the Rockies in the Nationals' 3-0 victory Sunday.

The Rockies, who haven't scored in 20 innings, went 0-for-28 with runners in scoring position in the series as the Nationals won three of the four games.

No team had gone an entire series with that many hitless at-bats
with runners in scoring position since May 31-June 2, 1991, when
the Montreal Expos went 0-for-28 against the Chicago Cubs,
according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"You expect to play better than that," Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins said. "They pitched well. They didn't give us too many opportunities. When we did get guys out there, they made the plays defensively. We didn't come through with runners on base."

Kearns came through when it counted for Washington.

The Nationals took the lead in the eighth after D'Angelo Jimenez singled to right off Jorge Julio (0-3) with two outs and went to second on a passed ball by Yorvit Torrealba. Ryan Zimmerman was intentionally walked before Kearns hammered a 1-0 pitch into the left-field mezzanine for his sixth homer.

"It's nice to see him produce because I know he's mentally strong," Nationals manager Manny Acta said of Kearns. "But I know that, deep inside, he wants to do a lot better than what he's done."

Kearns' homer was his first in 53 games, a span of 186 at-bats, and made a winner out of Jon Rauch (5-2), who got out of a two-on, two-out jam in the eighth.

"I've gone that long before so it's not something I'm concerning myself with," said Kearns, who last homered May 21. "Just trying to get the run in. If I start trying to hit home runs, I'm really going to struggle. That's not my approach."

Julio said his slider hung in the zone.

"I want to pitch to [Kearns]. I know this guy. This guy's an aggressive hitter. He swings at everything," Julio said.

Jimenez, who was 1-for-25 coming in to the series, also had a pinch-hit game-winning single in the 10th inning on Thursday night in the series opener.

Washington's consecutive shutouts are the first for the franchise since the Montreal Expos did so April 2-3, 2003 at Atlanta. It was the fifth shutout of the season for the Nationals, while the Rockies were blanked in back-to-back games for the first time since Aug. 30-31, 2003, at Los Angeles by the Dodgers.

Tim Redding threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings for Washington, before Chris Booker struck out pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs on a forkball with runners on the corners for the final out of the seventh. Chad Cordero worked the ninth for his 19th save.

"We're getting great pitching. We getting timely hitting. A.K. steps up there and hits a monster home run. It's a big lift," said Redding.

A bit of deception by Nationals left fielder Robert Fick kept the game scoreless in the fifth. With runners at first and second and none out, Torrealba lined an apparent single to left. Fick decoyed the runner at second, Brad Hawpe, into thinking he had a play on the ball before picking it up on one bounce and throwing to third to force Hawpe.

Another Washington defensive gem preserved the tie in the seventh after Atkins led off with a double and went to third on a passed ball. After Hawpe popped out, Troy Tulowitzki shot a grounder past third baseman Zimmerman, who was playing in to guard against the bunt. Lopez backhanded the ball deep in the hole at short, checked Atkins at third and threw Tulowitzki out at first.

Colorado starter Josh Fogg, bidding for his fifth victory in six decisions, allowed three hits, walked three and struck out one in six shutout innings.

The Nationals ran themselves out of a possible rally in the seventh. Fick drew a leadoff walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Nook Logan. Logan attempted to steal second as Ryan Langerhans popped up on a two-strike bunt attempt, with pitcher LaTroy Hawkins easily doubling Logan off first.

Game notes
Washington 1B Dmitri Young missed his third consecutive start with a bruised left heel, with Kearns assuming the cleanup spot in the order in his absence. Young is expected to return Tuesday at Philadelphia. ... Colorado finished a 10-game road trip 5-5 and returns to Coors Field on Monday to face San Diego, its first NL West opponent since May 27.