SAN DIEGO -- Felipe Rivero did not record an out and was charged with six runs in a disastrous eighth inning on Saturday night as the Padres rallied to deal the Nationals a 7-3 loss.
Rivero surrendered three hits, although none of them were struck particularly hard, walked a pair (one intentional), and committed a costly throwing error on a potential double play. His ERA skyrocketed to 6.82.
With the bases loaded and nobody out in a 3-3 game, Rivero got Brett Wallace to hit a comebacker to the mound, but Rivero bobbled it, then threw past catcher Wilson Ramos to allow a run to score. Rivero was removed from the game at that point as the Padres tacked on three more runs. After the game, Rivero declined to speak to reporters.
"He's in a bad state right now," manager Dusty Baker said. "Nothing's really going his way."
Rivero has struggled at numerous points this season. He has not been able to get left-handers out consistently, as they entered the game hitting .310/.423/.452 with an .875 OPS against him. Those problems were a large reason why Rivero's ERA sat at 5.09 ERA after his outing on May 14, before he turned in eight consecutive scoreless outings to end the month, lowering his ERA to 3.60.
But June has particularly been a nightmare. In seven outings this month, he has gave up 14 runs (10 earned) in 5 1/3 innings.
"Everybody goes through this," right-hander Max Scherzer said. "It doesn't matter how good you are, how bad you are everybody has a funk. It's just something you have to get through mentally. … This is the toughest part of being a Major Leaguer, when you make pitches and balls just bleed in there and you can let things snowball. And you start thinking world's crashing down on me, you can kind of have all these negative thoughts.
"The key to that is staying within yourself and why you're here and believing in yourself. Even when that happens the next time you don't have a negative thought, you actually believe that you're going to get out of it. That's the key to being a Major Leaguer."
In his rookie season in 2015, Rivero appeared in 49 games and posted a 2.79 ERA. The Nationals believe he can be a closer someday. He has been one of Washington's primary setup men this year and most important and most relied upon relievers. Rivero, 24, made his 34th appearance of the season Saturday night, tied for seventh most appearances in the Majors.
"We've all been talking to him and trying to put him in a positive state of mind," Baker said. "If we knew what to do he wouldn't have gone this far. So we just got to give him some support and give him some love basically. And just say, 'Hey man, we're with you.' And the rest is up to him."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.