May 25, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span (2) hits a single during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals Squander Opportunities, Lose to Phillies


The Nationals wasted an opportunity for a win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night. Dan Haren gave the Nats a quality start, giving up three runs in six innings, but the Nationals stranded eleven runners on the base paths and blew opportunities to score runs. The result was a 5-3 loss to the visiting Phillies. The curse of Fox continues to haunt the Nats. The game was the Fox Saturday night game, and yet again the Nats lost during a Fox regular season broadcast.

Haren threw two pitches in the second inning he would like to have back. Both pitches were in the middle of the plate with nothing on them, and the result was back to back home runs hit by Domonic Brown and Erik Kratz. The Phillies picked up one more run in the fifth inning on back to back doubles by the pitcher Jonathan Pettibone and Jimmy Rollins. Haren pitched six innings, giving up three runs and striking out ten.

Jonathan Pettibone, the Phillies young starter, also pitched six innings and gave up three runs. Adam LaRoche hit an RBI single in the third inning and a home run in the fifth for two of the Nats runs. The other RBI of the game belonged to Denard Span, who singled in the fourth inning to score Steve Lombardozzi who had previously singled and reached second on an error. Span had a good night against Pettibone, going three for three.

With the score tied 3-3 at the beginning of the seventh inning, both teams went to their bullpens. Henry Rodriguez threw the seventh inning for the Nats, and mostly the good Henry showed up. Kratz grounded out and Ben Revere flew out, but then Rodriguez hit pinch hitter Kevin Frandsen with a pitch. Fortunately Rodriguez induced a groundout from Rollins to end the inning with no damage.

The Nats had their opportunities in the seventh and eighth innings off the Phillies relievers, but could not take advantage and push a run across. Looking back at how the eighth inning played out, this game may have been lost when Davey Johnson set the lineup. Antonio Bastardo came out in the seventh inning and got Span to flyout, then walked Bryce Harper. Ryan Zimmerman flew out, and then Bastardo was facing another left hander. He uncorked a wild pitch that sent Harper to second, and then walked LaRoche. The Nats had two on and two out and Charlie Manuel pulled Bastardo, replacing him with Chad Durbin. Ian Desmond flew out to end the inning.

Drew Storen pitched the eighth inning for the Nationals and gave up two runs. Storen got Freddy Galvis to ground out on a great play by Lombardozzi and LaRoche. He then walked Michael Young, which was a terrible thing to do because Young is mired in a hitting funk and had been 0 for 3 against Haren. Storen got Ryan Howard to strike out. With two outs Delmon Young singled deep down the right field line, which scored Young. Manuel put in Michael Martinez to pinch run for Young, and it paid off when Brown doubled, scoring Martinez. Kratz popped out to end the inning, but now the Nats were behind by two runs with two innings left to try to come back.

Chad Durbin started pitching the eighth inning for the Phillies. Kurt Suzuki laid down a bunt single and Tyler Moore walked. Moore was replaced with pinch runner Jeff Kobernus, who made his major league debut on the basepaths. Durbin got Lombardozzi to line out to short for the first out. Durbin’s ERA is over 8.0, and the last thing the Nats wanted to do was chase him from the game. However, Johnson’s decision to start Tyler Moore in right field instead of Roger Bernadina against the right hander Pettibone blew up in his face when he needed a pinch hitter and had no right hander on the bench except back up catcher Jhonatan Solano. Johnson, instead of letting the right hander Solano hit, elected to go with Chad Tracy the left hander. With Tracy and then Span hitting Manuel pulled Durbin and went to reliever Jeremy Horst, whose job it is to get lefthanders out. That he did, getting Tracy to flyout on the first pitch he saw and getting another flyout from Span. The rally was killed and the Nats were now facing Johnathan Papelbon in the ninth inning.

Fernando Abad pitched the ninth inning for the Nats, giving up on walk and no hits. Papelbon gave up a single to Zimmerman, but struck out Harper, LaRoche and Desmond to end the game.

Next Game: Sunday May 26th at Nationals Park at 1:30 p.m. The pitching matchup looks like a good one, with Stephen Strasburg (2-5, 2.66 ERA) against Cole Hamels (1-7, 4.45 ERA).

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