Vance Worley, the youngster of the Philadelphia Phillies rotation, kept the Nats bats quiet most of the night, though he did not record a strikeout in seven innings pitched, and Jimmy Rollins hit two solo home runs against Washington Nationals starter Edwin Jackson, sending the Nats to a second consecutive loss, 3-2, before 23,777 at Nats Park.
The loss drops the Nats record to 61-42, though they maintain a 2 1/2 game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the N.L. East due to the Braves falling to the Miami Marlins 4-2.
Jackson didn’t have any problems in the first two innings, allowing a single base runner. But he was thrown out at home in the bottom of the second, colliding with catcher Erik Kratz, and he wasn’t the same after, giving up three solo home runs among his eight hits (to go along with four walks) in 5 2/3 innings.
Jackson legged out an infield hit with one out in the second and took second on Steve Lombardozzi’s ground out. Bryce Harper lashed a single to short left field and third base coach Bo Porter sent Jackson — a very good runner — home. Left fielder Domonic Brown threw a strike to Kratz and Jackson was out by three steps, colliding with Kratz as he tried to get his foot under the tag.
Jackson gave up four hard hit base hits in the next inning — including the first of Rollins’ pair — but a double play ball mitigated the damage.
In the fourth, the Phillies got two more runners on but failed to score. But Rollins and Nate Schierholtz, just obtained from the san Francisco Giants, went back-to-back to lead off the fifth, and the Phillies had all the runs they needed.
The Nats actually got out early in this one, scoring two unearned runs in the first inning off Worley. Adam LaRoche’s one-out single plated Harper (2-for-4, 1 run) and Chad Tracy scored on Danny Espinosa’s grounder that Chase Utley booted.
But that’s all the Nats could muster. They had a glimpse of life in the eighth, as Ryan Zimmerman pinch-hit for Tracy and singled up the middle with one out. But Michael Morse struck out against reliever Antonio Bastardo, and Zimmerman was thrown out stealing with Adam LaRoche at the plate.
THE TAKEAWAY: When you’re having trouble scoring runs — and the Nats are again suddenly – the littlest things matter. In this one, the two base-running decisions ended up really costing the Nats. Johnson’s decision to send Zimmerman in the eighth might have been rooted in good intention, ending up with the hitting matchup (LaRoche vs. Papelbon) he wanted, though he didn’t get the result. But Zimmerman, nursing a sore back and not a good runner to begin with, was a strange candidate to employ that strategy with. And Zimmerman has got to stop sliding head-first.
Porter’s decision on sending Jackson is curious. On one hand, Jackson is a great runner and with two outs Davey wants Porter to test the arm of a kid just called up from Triple-A. On the other hand, you never, ever, ever want to send your starting pitcher into a play at the plate. Whether it was coincidence or not, Jackson was not the same pitcher after the collision.
THE GOOD: Bryce Harper got things going again, with two hits and a run scored in four trips. Nats got 3 1/3 scoreless from the bullpen: Michael Gonzalez struck out three in 1 1/3, Mattheus and Burnett one each in one inning.
THE BAD: Steve Lombardozzi. 0-for-4 in the leadoff spot.
THE UGLY: Davey said post-game he thinks Jackson was tipping his pitches, especially to Rollins, who hit two bombs and nearly had a third, caught against the wall in right. If it’s a mechanical thing, they need to pinpoint it and get it straightened out.
THE STATS: 7 hits, 1 BB, 2 Ks. 2-for-5 with RISP, 5 LOB, no GIDP. E: Espinosa (7), 1 DP.
NEXT GAME: Thursday, Aug. 2 at 7:05 pm. Ross Detwiler (5-4, 3.24) hosts Cole Hamels (11-5, 3.31).
See our photo gallery from August 1 game.