Nats struggle to keep basestealers from success

Nats struggle to keep basestealers from success

Nats struggle to keep basestealers from success
PHILADELPHIA -- In each of the last two games, the Nationals have surrendered a late-inning insurance run when Phillies runners have been able to take advantage of easy opportunities to get into scoring position.

Friday, Chase Utley walked against Mike Gonzalez before stealing second base and scoring on a Ryan Howard single. On Saturday, Utley was hit by a pitch by Sean Burnett before he stole second and third base without much trouble against Burnett and catcher Kurt Suzuki. Again, Howard drove him in, this time with a sacrifice fly.

"He took some gambles, went first move, and it worked out," first baseman Adam LaRoche said of Utley. "As a team, we need to know who's capable of doing that and keep that in mind in those situations."

Holding runners and throwing out would-be basestealers has been an issue for the Nationals all season -- the Nats entered Sunday's series finale second to last in baseball with a 14 percent caught-stealing rate -- and it's reflected in Suzuki's caught stealing splits since he came over from the A's on Aug. 3.

Suzuki, who has become Washington's primary backstop after also starting regularly behind the dish in Oakland, has a career caught-stealing percentage of 28 percent. In 75 games with the A's this year, he caught 23 of 60 runners (38 percent). Since joining the Nats, he's 1-for-15 (seven percent).

"I mean, the guy was running before [Burnett] even made a move, and he didn't check him," manager Davey Johnson said Saturday night of Utley's steals. "That can't happen. Those are mental mistakes, not physical mistakes."

Backup catcher Jesus Flores, who owns a 25 percent caught-stealing rate, has caught just 12 percent of would-be basestealers this year.

D-backs catchers have caught a Major League-best 47 percent of would-be basestealers.