MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Williams preaches patience on losing streak

Nationals' manager irked by rundown mishap, focused on how club emerges from 5-game skid

Williams preaches patience on losing streak

MIAMI -- After getting swept by the Marlins this weekend, the Nationals find themselves on a five-game slide, their longest such streak since July 2013. The Nationals continue to have problems offensively and defensively. The pitching staff hasn't exactly dominated opposing hitters, either.

In Sunday's 6-2 loss to Miami, the Nationals couldn't do the little things right. In the fourth inning, after Ichiro Suzuki singled with two outs, Giancarlo Stanton was caught in a rundown between third and home. First baseman Ryan Zimmerman threw the ball to catcher Wilson Ramos, who held on to the ball long enough for Stanton to get back to third safely. Adeiny Hechavarria then tripled home three runs. It turned out to be the turning point of the game.

Stanton avoids tag on rundown

Offensively, the Nationals continue to struggle with runners in scoring position. They went 1-for-4 on Sunday and are hitting .228 in that department this season. How does the team get better moving forward?

"We can get out of that inning by executing the rundown," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "I don't know why Willie didn't give up the ball. We can certainly take advantage of guys in scoring position. We can do a lot better than we have. We'll continue to work on that.

"I know the big inning [in the fourth] was a result of us not executing. You give them extra outs. That's what happens. We need to do a better job all around."

Despite the bad luck on the field, Williams does not feel changes should be made to the roster. Eighteen players on the current roster helped them win the National League East title last year.

"There are certainly some guys that you want to get going [at the plate]," Williams said. "But ultimately, it comes down to execution, whether it's getting a guy in from third or ... the rundown today or not giving the other team extra opportunities. That's essentially our season so far in the nutshell. That being said, personnel changes, it's the same guys that we had. They are good players and they can do well. Times like this test your mettle. How we come out of it is the question."

Left fielder Jayson Werth continues to believe the Nationals will be in contention.

"Things aren't really bouncing our way," Werth said. "It seems like every time we make a mistake, it turns out to be something that cost us. It doesn't have to be that way. At some point we'll be all right, but right now, it's the way it's going. It's unfortunate. I'm sure it doesn't look good."

Bryce Harper reminded the local media that it's a long season and the team should continue to have fun on the field.

"We surely didn't want to start like this, but it happens. Hopefully, we can get out there [Monday] against Atlanta and get it going," Harper said. "Take it day by day, but keep having fun. We cannot have fun out there and get all down in the dumps. We have to keep having fun."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.