Animated Hinch tossed in D-backs loss

D-backs let early lead get away

WASHINGTON -- What will be played and replayed as an everlasting lowlight is typically mild-mannered D-backs manager A.J. Hinch's face-to-face argument with first-base umpire Jerry Crawford after a disputed call at first base in the eighth inning.

Third baseman Mark Reynolds called it "awesome." The victim of the call, Trent Oeltjen, laughed about how Hinch "got his money's worth."

But the seven innings that preceded the call contain the true crux to Friday's game.

"To lose this game is the story of the game," Hinch said after the Nationals' 7-6 comeback victory. "But the way it happens makes you shake your head."

Against Nationals rookie Collin Balester, the D-backs homered their way to a 5-0 lead in the second inning behind solo shots from Mark Reynolds and Josh Whitesell, as well as a three-run blast by Stephen Drew.

But the offense stalled and Jon Garland gave those runs back, in large part because of a pair of defensive miscues by center fielder Gerardo Parra.

With the score tied at 5, Josh Willingham hit the go-ahead two-run single in the bottom of the seventh off reliever Juan Gutierrez. With runners at the corners, the D-backs allowed Cristian Guzman to steal second base. They countered by intentionally walking Adam Dunn, and Willingham made them pay.

"You try to match up your personnel with their personnel, and if they did choose to run, it left an open base, which made it a situation where I didn't want to take any chances with Dunn," Hinch said. "[Willingham] gets a fastball to hit and he made a good hit."

The D-backs' bid to regain the lead started with the disputed call at first base. Oeltjen hit a ball to the hole at short, which Guzman scooped up and fired over to first. Oeltjen was called out, although his foot clearly touched the bag before Dunn caught the throw.

"I didn't say anything, but I thought I was clearly safe," Oeltijen said.

Hinch surely said something. The first-year manager stormed out of the dugout and vigorously yelled at Crawford, who yelled back, both men's heads cocking back and forth, as they argued nose to nose. Hinch strolled back to the dugout after his first career ejection, and then tried to plead his case with home-plate umpire Brian O'Nora.

"It's a close play to lead off the inning and obviously I disagreed with the call, and [Crawford's] subsequent reaction was not right either ... I don't feel like I was in the wrong," Hinch said.

A pair of walks, a single and a sacrifice fly followed that play, leading to a D-backs run to cut the score to 7-6. The additional baserunner could have resulted in a necessary run for a comeback.

The Nationals' comeback began when Parra misplayed a single into three bases for Willingham to lead off the bottom of the second. Elijah Dukes knocked Willingham home with a sacrifice fly.

In the fourth, Parra made another costly defensive mistake. With men on the corners, Dukes lined a ball into deep center field. Parra took several steps forward, and before he could retreat back, the ball was already over his leaping body for a two-run double. Dukes later scored on a Wil Nieves sacrifice fly which cut the D-backs' lead to 5-4.

"He's definitely upset at himself," Garland said of Parra. "He came up to me after both of them and you could see in his face, he felt bad. He knew he had done something wrong. It's one of those things, everything can't go right every night."

Ryan Zimmerman tied the score at 5 in the fifth with a solo home run to center.

Mark Selig is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.