Despite little offensive support, Roberto Hernandez put in a masterful performance giving up just 1 run over 8 sharp innings as the Phils took the second of a four game set in D.C.
The 1-2-3 first inning for both clubs set the tone in a pitching-dominated game, but the Phillies were first on the scoreboard in the second inning. A two-out rally was sparked courtesy of Sizemore who doubled to center, and after Ruiz walked it was Cody Asche who singles to right scoring Grady Sizemore and giving Philadelphia a 1-0 lead.
However the lead was short lived as the Nationals tied it up in the bottom of the second. LaRoche led off with what should have been a single, but Asche’s throw got away in what was scored an error, and LaRoche advanced to third. Ian Desmond then singled up the middle to level the game at 1-1 after two.
The Phillies almost retook the lead in the top of the fifth when Asche was gunned down at home plate. Having led off with a single, Cody Asche was bunted over to second, and Revere singled to right but Werth produced a perfect throw to nab Asche at home plate.
Marlon Byrd was responsible for breaking the tie in the top of the 6th, when he took a 2-out pitch opposite field to right for his 21st homer of the year, making it 2-1 Phillies.
Jonathan Papelbom entered in the bottom of the 9th aiming to make it 26 saves out of 29, and despite giving up back-to-back 1 out singles to Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond, he struck out Harper on a 3-2 splitter and Cabrera was set down on three pitches to end the ball game. He moves to 312 career saves, surpassing Tom Hankey into sole possession of 20th place in all-time saves total.
Grady Sizemore was again the highlight of the Phillies meaner offensive display, getting two hits (a double and a single) as well as a walk, boosting his average for the season to .328 through 68 season at-bats.
Cody Asche came through with a couple of crucial hits including an RBI single and a lead off single, continuing his good year at the plate against the Washington Nationals and boosting his average to .250.
Marlon Byrd provided the game winning hit with his home run to right, giving him his 62nd RBI of the year, but struck out three times in other at-bats.
The only other Phillies hit went to Ben Revere, and notably Ryan Howard went 0-for-4 despite being in hitters counts for three of the four at-bats.
Nevertheless, the lack of offense did not matter as Roberto Hernandez went eight innings striking out only three but keeping the ball down using an effective changeup and a perfectly located slider. Efficiency was also his strong point, throwing just 94 pitches (with 59 strikes) in total and getting into lots of pitcher’s counts going after batters. Hernandez improves to 6-8 on the season with the win.
The Phillies move to 49-61 on the season, 10.5 games back of first place. Tomorrow night will see A.J. Burnett (6-10, 4.15 ERA) face Jordan Zimmerman (6-5, 3.17 ERA), first pitch at 7:05ET.