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Kozma not bothered by boos in Washington

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WASHINGTON -- There was some irony on Monday night when, with two out and two on in the sixth, the Nationals opted to intentionally walk Pete Kozma in order to bring up the pitcher's spot in the Cardinals' lineup. It was, of course, exactly what Washington didn't do in Game 5 of the National League Division Series last October.

Last year's decision by manager Davey Johnson continues to be scrutinized by Nationals fans, who wonder if the Game 5 outcome would have been different had Kozma not been pitched to in the ninth inning of Game 5. It was Kozma's two-run single in that spot that became the difference in the Cardinals' 9-7 win.

As Kozma jogged down to first base upon being walked Monday, first-base coach Chris Maloney greeted him with a message: "I think they remember you from last year."

Indeed, everyone in Washington seems to remember. Kozma was the subject of a front-page story in the Washington Post on Monday, and he was booed heartily during pregame introductions and before each of his at-bats in the series opener.

No one else in the Cardinals' lineup drew such a reaction upon being introduced.

"I've never been booed anywhere I've played," said Kozma, who drove in five runs during that best-of-five NLDS. "It was definitely a new experience. It was, I wouldn't say good, but it was a little bit of fuel. I didn't know it would be that loud. I was surprised by it."

While Kozma is drawing the ire of Nationals fans for what he did last postseason, his success against Washington's pitching staff extends to the regular season, too. Through Monday's game, Kozma had nine hits, six RBIs and five runs scored in 19 regular-season at-bats against the Nationals.

"Getting booed at home shouldn't be a goal of yours, but being booed on the road isn't necessarily that bad of a thing," manager Mike Matheny said. "It means you've done something for your club. I think that's a great compliment to him.

"At first it caught us off-guard, like, 'What did he do to anybody?' Then it was like, 'Oh yeah. That.'"

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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