After a terribly disappointing loss to the Philadelphia Phillies (47-57) last night, the Nationals struggled yet again to get hits as Vance Worley (W, 6-6) and Co. took care of business tonight in DC. Final score: 3-2, and the Nats fall to 61-42. Thankfully, the Braves lost against the Marlins so the Nats get to hold desperately onto a 2.5-game division lead.
Both pitchers played at least pretty well in this one, but it was certainly Worley who shined after settling into a grove following the Nat-packed 1st inning. He’d pitch seven strong, giving up only six hits and one walk. He didn’t manage to strike anyone out, but I’m sure to his pleasure neither run was earned. Both scores for the Nats came in that opening inning, where Worley quickly loaded the bases after a Bryce Harper single, “Goon Squad” leader Chad Tracy walk, and an error on third baseman Kevin Frandsen that allowed Michael Morse to reach base. Fresh off a night of rest, Adam LaRoche would then hit an RBI single perfectly up the middle to score Harper and put the score at 1-0. Still with the bases loaded, Danny Espinosa would ground into a fielder’s choice to score Tracy. That’d be all for the Nats offense, as Worley would hit cruise control and surrender just two hits following the 2nd inning.
After a tough night for Stephen Strasburg and the incompetent Henry Rodriguez on Tuesday, the Phillies’ bats would continue to unload on Nationals’ pitching. Edwin Jackson (L, 6-7) tried to follow up his gem in Milwaukee with another stellar performance, but Jimmy Rollins would have none of that. The man, who hit an inside-the-park home run last night, just missed a leadoff homer in the 1st for an out but would then absolutely crush one to the second deck in right field in the 3rd. If that wasn’t enough, he then hit another solo shot in the 5th to tie the game. That tie wouldn’t last for long, as new addition Nate Schierholtz homered just a pitch later to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead. Our beloved announcers, FP Santangelo and Bob Carpenter, seemed to believe Jackson’s weak pitching was spurred as a result of getting tagged out at home in the top of the 3rd on a Harper single, but nevertheless the Nats just couldn’t come back from that one run deficit the rest of the night. Michael Gonzalez, Ryan Mattheus, and Sean Burnett all pitched well in relief, yet it would be Phils’ closer Jonathan Papelbon to record the final out and give the Phillies a much-needed series win. Who would have thought this fire sale team that just traded all-stars Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino could just come into DC and take at least two away from this first-place squad?
Champ of the Game: No one was truly a champ for the Nats in this losing effort, but Harper definitely bounced back nicely tonight following a frustrating mini-slump. He went 2-4 with the opening run.
For the Phillies, Worley and Rollins were both outstanding. Worley is now 3-1 in his last four starts, and after homering just seven times in the first four months of the season, Rollins now has three homers in the past two games.
Chump of the Game: Though he granted seemed to be playing through a leg injury suffered early in tonight’s game, Roger Bernadina played pretty horrendously in this one. The Shark went 0-4 with a strikeout to end the game.
For the Phils, Frandsen gets the nod after hitting a homer off Strasburg yesterday. Tonight, he went 0-4 with a crucial error in the 1st inning that allowed Harper and Tracy to eventually score.
Unsung Hero: I don’t usually like to award this following a loss, but Chad Tracy played noticeably well after being called up from Syracuse just yesterday. He had a terrific diving stop at third base in the 2nd to prevent a hit and also went 1-2 with a walk and a run to minimize the damage of Ryan Zimmerman‘s continued absence.
Next Game: Tomorrow, 7:05PM at Nats Park. Ross Detwiler (5-4, 3.24 ERA) will hit the mound against the newly extended Cole Hamels (11-5, 3.31 ERA). This game is highly anticipated as Hamels makes his first return trip to DC since intentionally plunking Bryce Harper on May 6.