WASHINGTON -- Before Monday's home opener, the Washington Nationals spoke about being happy to finally be off the road, about being quite sure they aren't as bad as their record would suggest, about how it's far too early to be worried.
And a few hours later, after hearing boos during a 9-8 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Nationals were saying a lot of the same things. After all, they still have a zero in the win column, the only major league team that's lost every game so far.
Facing a Phillies club stunned by the death of longtime broadcaster Harry Kalas shortly before the game, the Nationals dropped to 0-7 because they once again couldn't pitch or field well enough to back an offense that is doing its part.
"We're going to figure it out. I don't know if it's going to be tomorrow or it's going to be June," said left fielder Adam Dunn, who homered, doubled and made an error in his first home game in D.C. "I promise: We're going to figure it out."
Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez and Shane Victorino homered for Philadelphia, and Jamie Moyer (1-1) allowed four runs in six innings to earn the win. Brad Lidge collected his third save -- that makes 47 chances converted in a row -- despite giving up Ryan Zimmerman's two-run homer in the ninth.
The Phillies had a photo of Kalas, who was 73, taped inside their dugout during the game. He collapsed in the stadium's broadcasting booth a couple hours before the first pitch and died after being taken to a hospital. The teams discussed whether it would be appropriate to postpone the game.
"I know Harry. I know Harry would want us to play," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's just a sad day."
After Victorino homered in the third, he crossed himself and then pointed up to the booth at Nationals Park where Kalas was supposed to be working.
"It sounds like he passed in the place he would want to," said Howard, whose homer snapped a 4-4 tie. "He was up in the booth."
Zimmerman's homer, which followed Cristian Guzman's fifth single of the day, wasn't enough because reliever Saul Rivera (0-1) came on to start the seventh and did this: hit batter, hit batter, three-run homer by Howard, strikeout, solo homer by Ibanez. In the eighth, Rivera's replacement, Wil Ledezma, gave up another run.
"We need to hold the opposition to less than six, seven, eight runs -- and I think we'll have a chance to win," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "The main thing is we can't be allowing eight, nine runs every day."
It didn't help that the Nationals made three errors that contributed to three unearned runs.
Every mistake is haunting a team that led the majors with 102 losses last season and hoped that adding free-agent slugger Dunn and some spare parts would be enough to change directions.
"I don't think we're worried. We've been in pretty much every game that we've played in," Zimmerman said. "A little bit better defense, and pitch a little bit better, and everything's going to come around. But, I mean, it would be nice to break through."
Instead of focusing on the joys of a home opener -- a Nationals Park-record crowd of 40,386 showed up -- pregame talk for Washington's players, manager and front office was all about the losing streak.
Acta was asked if he worries about his job security. The team has not exercised a 2010 club option in his contract.
"If ... they're going to judge me over six, seven, eight games or whatever, that's up to them. I really don't worry about that, because I'm going to get a job if it's not here," Acta said. "My hope is to be here for the next 20 years, but if I don't, I'll have a job somewhere."
Team president Stan Kasten, meanwhile, acknowledged season-ticket sales are down from last season but wouldn't reveal by how much.
Asked if he's disappointed in his team's start, Kasten said: "I never sleep after a loss. That hasn't changed. So I could really use some sleep."
Philadelphia has trailed in each of its four wins. ... Nationals infielder-outfielder Willie Harris went on the 15-day DL with a pulled side muscle. Second baseman Anderson Hernandez was brought off the DL and started; he made two errors. ... Guzman went 5-for-5 -- all singles -- with two RBIs and a steal. But he departed for a pinch runner in the ninth because he felt "a little pop" in his left hamstring coming out of the batter's box and again as he reached first base. Asked how much time he'd miss, Guzman said: "Maybe not a lot, because it's not too bad." ... Nationals right-hander Daniel Cabrera went five innings, allowing four runs -- one earned.
- Home Plate Umpire - Bill Miller
- First Base Umpire - Derryl Cousins
- Second Base Umpire - Adrian Johnson
- Third Base Umpire - Jim Joyce