Thanks to torrential day-long rains on Saturday, the Phillies and Washington Nationals took part in a rare doubleheader on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. The two teams ended up splitting, with the Nats taking the opener by 3-2, and the Phils taking the 2nd game by an 8-5 margin..
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In the opener win for Washington it was all about starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (5-5), who pretty much shut down the Phillies. The big righthander allowed just 2 earned runs on 4 hits and a walk while striking out 9 over 7 strong innings. Matt Thornton and David Carpenter then setup closer Drew Storen, who registered his 23rd Save
The Phils scored first on a Jeff Francoeur leadoff homer in the 2nd inning, then didn’t score again until Francoeur singled home Maikel Franco in the 7th. Francoeur gave back one of those runs when his fielding error allowed Denard Span to reach 3rd base in the 5th. Danny Espinosa‘s sac fly then tied it up at 1-1.
The difference makers in the opener came in the 6th, when the Nats scored twice. The big blow was a one-out RBI double by Michael Taylor off Phillies starter Kevin Correia. After Jake Diekman came on in relief, a 2-out passed ball by Cameron Rupp on a pitch that seemed to cross-up the catcher allowed Dan Uggla to score what proved to be the winning run.
Correia (0-2) allowed 3 runs, but just 1 earned, across 5.1 innings in which he ducked trouble for the most part. He allowed 7 hits and 3 walks. Four Phils relievers allowed no runs of their own, but the bats just couldn’t get to Strasburg or solve the Nats bullpen.
In the “nightcap” – we’ll call it that since it was getting a little dark by the time the game ended at 8pm – the Phillies bats came alive against Nats’ starter Tanner Roark (3-3), scoring 4 times in both the 2nd and 4th innings.
In the 2nd inning, Phillies’ starter Severino Gonzalez grounder with runners at 2nd and 3rd scored the game’s first run. That was followed by 4 straight singles, scoring 3 more runs. In the 4th, Gonzalez (3-2) helped himself again, leading off with a single and scoring on a 2-run single by Maikel Franco. Three more singles and a sac fly produced 2 more runs, and gave the Phillies an 8-3 lead at that point.
The Nats had scored 3 times in the top of the 4th, a 2-run homer from Ian Desmond being the big blast. Jose Lobaton cracked a solo homer in the 6th, and the Nationals scratched out another run in the 7th to draw within striking distance at 8-5. But Ken Giles came on to toss 1.1 shutout innings, setting up Jonathan Papelbon, who registered his 14th Save to nail down the split.
The Phils got a spirited day from new 2nd baseman Cesar Hernandez, who had 2 hits and 2 stolen bases in the opener, and then registered a 4-hit game with another steal and a run scored in the 2nd game.
The Phillies will now welcome in the Milwaukee Brewers for a 4-game series. The Brewers are the only team in MLB even close to the Phils worst-record status. The Brew Crew is in last place in the NL Central with MLB’s 2nd worst record, two games ahead of the Phillies for that distinction.