The nine-game road trip the Washington Nationals have embarked on here in the last week of May is going to go a long way to proving if the Nats are going to be competitive in the N.L. East this season, with a succession of three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins.
So far, so good.
The Nats pounded Phillies starter Roy Halladay for five runs — including home runs from Ian Desmond and Rick Ankiel — and nine hits en route to a 5-2 win over the Phillies before 45,569 at Citizen’s Bank Park. It was the Nats sixth consecutive win at CBP dating back to last season. They’re now 4-1 against the Phils this season and have won 13 of their last 16 games against their division rival.
The win gives the Nats a 26-17 record, a half-game ahead of Atlanta for first place in the division. Philly drops to 21-23, last in the East.
Jordan Zimmermann gutted out six innings, allowing one run on seven hits and two walks, striking out just two. He had trouble putting hitters away, repeatedly going to three-ball counts, but stuck in and gave his team an extra inning, needing just nine pitches to get through the sixth. He ended the night having thrown 107 pitches, 71 for strikes.
His biggest pitch might have been a 3-2 slider — for called strike three – to first baseman Hector Luna with two on and two down in the fifth.
Bryce Harper started the scoring in the third inning against Halladay (L, 4-4), tripling with two on. Harper later scored on an Adam LaRoche sacrifice fly, and Desmond stayed hot, hitting his eighth homer off Halladay to cap the inning. Ankiel added a solo shot for his third of the year in the fourth inning.
Four Nationals batters had two hits apiece: Harper, leadoff man Steve Lombardozzi, Danny Espinosa and Zimmermann.
Tyler Clippard pitched an uneventful ninth inning for his first save of the season, to the relief of all NatsTown
THE GOOD: Bryce Harper. Went 2-for-5, his fourth multi-hit effort in his last five games, raising his average from .227 to .264.
THE BAD: Jesus Flores went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
THE UGLY: The Phillies record against the Nats in the last 16 meetings. Karma’s a bitch.
THE STATS: 10 hits, 1 BB, 12 Ks. 1-for-5 with RISP, 6 LOB, 0 GIDP. No errors, no DPs.
NEXT GAME: The Nats go for the sweep in Philly Wednesday at 7:05 pm. Edwin Jackson (1-1, 3.31) faces Cole Hamels (6-1, 2.48).
NATS NOTES: Ryan Zimmerman was a late scratch from the lineup. According to reports, he experienced some tightness in his right shoulder that caused him to miss 15 days to the D.L. earlier this season. Davey Johnson said after the Game that Zimmerman wanted to play, and expects him to be in the lineup Wednesday.