The Philadelphia Phillies led early but were ultimately defeated by the host Washington Nationals in a series opener on Friday night.
The Phillies probably had a checklist for success headed into last night’s opening game of their weekend series in our nation’s capital.
First, find a way to dent the armor of Nats’ ace power righty Stephen Strasburg, who came in at 9-0 on the season, and score a few runs.
Second, keep Nats’ young wunderkind Bryce Harper, the reigning NL Most Valuable Player, in check. Harper has been a one-man wrecking crew in earlier meetings between the two teams this season.
Check, and check. The Phils scored four early runs off Strasburg, taking a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the 3rd inning. And Harper was held hitless at 0-2 with a pair of walks.
Unfortunately for the Fightin’ Phils, the Nats are a multi-talented team, with a variety of weapons at their disposal. It is the main reason that Washington has gone 14-10 since May 14th, when the two clubs were tied atop the NL East, while the Phillies have gone 7-17.
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The Nationals received contributions up and down their lineup last night in storming back to a 9-6 victory over the Phillies at Nationals Park.
Daniel Murphy continued his All-Star season by going 2-4 with a run scored and three RBI, shortstop Danny Espinosa went 3-4 with two runs and his 10th home run of the season, and catcher Wilson Ramos crushed his 9th long ball.
Strasburg would settle down to go seven innings, allowing just five hits while striking out 10 batters and walking just one.
Meanwhile, Phillies starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (4-4) laid an egg with his own performance, blowing the early lead given him and finishing with seven earned runs and nine hits allowed over a six inning stint.
The lone bright spot on the night for the Phillies was 1st baseman Tommy Joseph, who hit cleanup and bashed a pair of home runs, giving him seven homers since being called up from AAA less than a month ago.
The Phils have now lost 11 of their last 14 games, falling eight games behind the Nationals in the NL East race, which is fast-becoming a moot point.
There remain nine teams in MLB with a worse record than the Phillies 29-32 mark, but the Phils are fading fast.