WASHINGTON (AP) -- Tired of being victimized by poor run support,
Esteban Loaiza took matters into his own hands.
Loaiza hit a two-run double and pitched six shutout innings, to
lead the Washington Nationals, with President Bush in attendance,
to a 3-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night, their
11th straight win at home.
Loaiza (3-5) allowed six hits, walked one and struck out five,
combining with three relievers on the Nationals' fourth shutout of
the season. He was pitching for the first time since being
scratched from a scheduled start against Texas on Sunday because of
a sore neck.
"I'm glad we had his bat in the lineup tonight," Nationals
manager Frank Robinson said.
After watching the Nationals score 37 runs in his three losses
and nine no-decisions, Loaiza was an unlikely source of offense. In
Loaiza's three wins, Washington has scored 16 runs.
"I wanted to go out and put zeros up on the board," Loaiza
said. "I've been struggling a little bit. Today with the bat, my
double was outstanding, too."
Brad Wilkerson homered for the Nationals, whose 25 home
victories are the most in the National League. Washington won for
the 13th time in 14 games at RFK Stadium and improved to 2-0 with
the president present.
"It's not a lot of runs," Wilkerson said, "but it was enough
to get (Loaiza) the W."
The Nationals are two games shy of matching the franchise-record
home winning streak set by the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium
from Aug. 28-Sept. 15, 1979. Washington (43-30) moved to a
season-high 13 games over .500.
Josh Towers (5-7) lost his sixth straight decision for the Blue
Jays, who had won three of four.
Bush took in the Nationals' first game at RFK Stadium after a
nine-game road trip. He was joined by Secretary of State Condoleeza
Rice, brother Marvin Bush and the president's nominee as U.S.
ambassador to France, Craig Stapleton -- a Bush cousin by marriage.
They sat in the front row of an open, mezzanine-level box along the
"I didn't even know he was there until (catcher Brian)
Schneider told me in the fourth inning. ... I looked up and he was
up there. It's really exciting," Loaiza said.
It was the president's second visit to RFK Stadium for a
baseball game this year. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch at
the team's home opener April 14 and watched several innings of
Washington's win over Arizona.
Bush had to be impressed with Loaiza, who staked himself to a
2-0 lead in the second, recording his first RBI since June 2, 1998
for Pittsburgh in an interleague game against Detroit.
"That's the game right there. I don't care who you are, but you
just don't get beat by a pitcher," Towers said. "No offense to
Loaiza, but you just don't give up a double to the pitcher with two
Robinson thought Towers, who got beat on a slider, didn't
concentrate enough on the Nationals' pitcher.
"I was going to take," Loaiza said. "But after looking at the
outfield, ... I thought he was going to come with a first-pitch
strike and I swung and made contact."
Loaiza batted with two runners on again in the fourth. With two
outs, Schneider doubled and Towers intentionally walked Cristian
Guzman to face Loaiza, who struck out swinging.
In the sixth, the right-hander also worked out of a two-on,
none-out jam, getting a popup, a called third strike and a
groundout to end the threat.
Towers went six innings, allowing two runs and eight hits. He
walked one and struck out five.
Wilkerson led off the seventh with his fifth homer, a shot to
right off reliever Justin Speier.
Toronto OF Vernon Wells had his team-high 23rd multihit
game. ... Loaiza has gone at least six innings in 12 of his 15
starts. His last multiple-RBI game was May 17, 1998, for Pittsburgh
at Arizona. ... Both starters threw 93 pitches, 62 for strikes.