Nationals Hand Phillies 5th Straight Defeat
By Matt Veasey
The Phillies (3-7) opened a 4-game series in Washington with a 5-2 loss to the Nationals (4-6) last night, the 5th straight defeat for the club.
Cole Hamels started on the mound for the Phils and allowed just 5 hits across his 6 innings pitched. However, for the 2nd consecutive start he was done in by the long ball, allowing a pair. He struck out 7, but also walked 4 batters in dropping to 0-2.
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Hamels allowed a homerun to Nats 3rd baseman Yunel Escobar on the very first pitch of the game, putting himself and the team behind the 8-ball from the very start on an overcast night in the nation’s capital.
The Phillies fought back with solo runs in both the 3rd and 4th to take a lead. In the 3rd, Darin Ruf led off with a double, then moved up to 3rd on a fielder’s choice ground out by Hamels. Ruf then scored when Freddy Galvis tripled to right with two outs.
In the 4th, the Phils loaded the bases without a hit, using a pair of walks around an error by Nats centerfielder Michael Taylor. The team then scored without one on a sacrifice fly from Darin Ruf to put the Phillies up by 2-1.
Washington tied it right back up in the bottom of the 4th when Bryce Harper walked, went to 2nd on a balk by Hamels, then scored on a 2-out single off the bat of catcher Wilson Ramos. In the bottom of the 5th, Taylor made up for his error when he led off with a homerun off Hamels, and the Nats were back on top 3-2.
In the home half of the 6th inning, the Nationals iced the game with a pair of runs. Ex-Phillie Jayson Werth led off with a double and Harper again walked to put the first two men on base. Ryan Zimmerman then scored them both with an opposite-field double, Harper running through a stop sign from his 3rd base coach to make it 5-2.
Hamels would get through the rest of the inning unscathed, but at 95 pitches (just 55 strikes) and with the team in a hole, his night was done. The last couple of innings were a back and forth shutout effort from both bullpens.
The Phillies last gasp came in the 9th. Ryan Howard, who had been dropped to 7th in the batting order by manager Ryne Sandberg, the lowest in the Phils order that the former dangerous slugger has hit since 2006, led off with a single. Ruf struck out, however, and then Ben Revere, pinch-hitting for reliever Jonathan Papelbon, grounded into a game-ending 6-3 double play.
It was Nats closer Drew Storen shutting the door in that 9th, earning his 3rd Save. He was following 1.1 shutdown innings from relievers Matt Thornton and Aaron Barrett, who in turn had followed starter Doug Fister. Fister lasted 6.2 innings for the home team, scattering 4 hits and 4 walks while allowing 2 runs, just 1 earned, in gaining his first victory.
The Phils have now scored just 24 runs in their first 10 games, averaging fewer than 2 1/2 runs per outing, and actually scoring 2 or fewer runs in half of the games. They have been shutout twice, and things don’t promise to get any better this weekend, facing perhaps the best starting rotation in the game.
The Phillies and Nationals will continue their series on Friday night in D.C., with Sean O’Sullivan scheduled to take on Max Scherzer. The weather is calling for possible showers, even possibly a thunderstorm, but it appears as of Friday morning that the system, while it could cause a delay, should not ultimately affect the game taking place.