Washington Nationals Recap: Early miscues doom Nats in loss to Phillies

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After a three-game winning streak that many believed had changed the course of the first few weeks of the season for the Washington Nationals, the team returned to its sloppy ways in a 5-3 loss to the Phillies Saturday afternoon.

The game wasn’t quite as bad as those in the first couple of weeks of the season, which were riddled with poor defense and no offense, as the Nationals still strung together some hits and scored three runs. But  defense was once again an issue for the Nationals and ultimately ruined a solid start from starter Jordan Zimmermann.

Ryan Zimmerman gave the Nationals an early lead in the bottom of the second inning, hitting an RBI groundout that made it a 1-0 game. But the Phillies came right back to take the lead in the third inning, with help from Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond.

With one out in the top of the third, Desmond bobbled a grounder off the bat of Phillies starter Aaron Harang and then threw a bouncer to Zimmerman at first base. Originally, Harang was ruled out at first base, but after the Phillies challenged the call it was overturned and Desmond was charged with his eighth error of the season. Harang scored later in the inning on an RBI single by Freddy Galvis, tying the game at 1-1.

Unfortunately for the Nationals, the Phillies offense wasn’t done, and neither was Desmond’s poor defense. After the Phillies had tied the game and put runners on the corner with one out, Chase Utley hit a taylor made double-play ball to Dan Uggla. Uggla played the ball cleanly and made a perfect feed to Desmond, but after getting the out at second the ball flew out of Desmond’s glove, breaking up the double play and allowing the go-ahead run to score. The Phillies scored two runs in the inning, both of them unearned.

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The Nationals’ offense bailed out Desmond in the fourth, with an RBI single from Jose Lobaton tying the game at 2-2. The Phillies retook the lead on an RBI single by Galvis in the fifth inning, but the Nationals once again came back to tie the game at 3-3 on a monster home run by Bryce Harper in the bottom of the inning.

But that was all the offense the Nationals would get, as Harang and the Phillies bullpen shut down the Washington lineup the rest of the day. The Phillies took a 4-3 lead on a fielder’s choice in the top of the seventh, before scoring their fifth run of the game on an RBI single off the bat of Odubal Herrera in the ninth, securing a 5-3 win for the Phillies.

It was a solid start for Zimmermann, who gave up four runs (two earned) on four hits over 6 1/3 innings of work. But the poor defense and lack of run support was too much for Zimmermann to overcome, and he came away with his second loss of the season.

Next Game: The Nationals and Phillies will be back at it tomorrow afternoon as Washington looks to win its first series of the season. Stephen Strasburg gets the start for the Nationals, as David Buchanan takes the mound for the Phillies.

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