In a matchup between two over-5.00 ERA pitchers on two teams struggling to find the .500 mark, the Philadelphia Phillies (34-37) topped the Washington Nationals (34-35) 5-4 in walk-off fashion Monday night.
It’s been a frustrating road trip for the Nats, who have managed to win three of seven thus far despite their offensive woes.
With former National John Lannan (ND, 0-1) on the mound for the Phillies, Washington had a legitimate shot at erasing memories of Sunday afternoon’s frustrating loss to the Cleveland Indians.
In fact, the Nats struck first – and early – against Lannan. With one out in the first inning, Anthony Rendon drew a walk before Ryan Zimmerman took first on a hit-by-pitch. Jayson Werth singled to left to drive in Rendon and give the Nats a 1-0 lead before Ian Desmond grounded into a double play to cut the inning short.
Unfortunately for Dan Haren (ND, 4-8), the Phillies quickly tied it up in the second via a Ryan Howard leadoff homer.
In the third, Michael Young tripled with one out before Jimmy Rollins and Howard drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Delmon Young doubled with two outs and, to the Nats’ limited luck, Werth was able to throw out Howard at home to stop the bleeding. Nonetheless, the Phillies entered the fourth up 3-1.
The Nationals earned one back in the fourth, thanks to back-to-back doubles by Kurt Suzuki and Steve Lombardozzi, but it didn’t take long for the Phillies to erase their progress.
In the bottom of the fifth, Ben Revere led off with a single and stole second, only to score on a two-out Howard single to make it 4-2 Phillies.
With Mike Adams pitching for the Phils in the eighth, Zimmerman doubled and scored on a two-out Ian Desmond single to pull the Nats back within one.
Jonathan Papelbon took the mound in the ninth – with his perfect save record intact. That is, until Chad Tracy stepped to the plate with two outs.
On an 0-2 count, Tracy socked a 93 MPH two-seamer over the right field wall to tie the game, inciting cheers from the Nationals’ dugout and keeping alive hope for a Washington comeback.
Davey Johnson’s Nationals called upon Fernando Abad (L, 0-1) in the ninth and the 27-year-old delivered a series of pitches that could have very well sent the two teams into extras. He maintained great velocity on his four-seamer and took command of the strike zone, but somehow it just wasn’t enough.
Ben Revere hit a sharp liner up the middle, setting up prime opportunities for both Rollins and Domonic Brown to find a little luck at the plate. The sub-.280 hitters each hit bloop singles – with Brown delivering the walk-off hit to give the Phillies a 5-4 win and send the Nats below .500 once again.
THE GOOD: Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Ian Krol pitched a perfect seventh inning of relief and Tyler Clippard delivered a scoreless eighth.
THE BAD: Luck is not on the Nationals’ side – even when opportunities come their way, they can’t seem to capitalize. Despite becoming the first team this season to force Jonathan Papelbon to blow a save, they still came up empty – and he walked away with a blown-save-win instead.
THE UGLY: During this road stint thus far, the Nationals have won all three of the games in which they have scored five or more runs – but lost all four matchups in which they have tallied four or fewer.
THE STATS: 4 R, 9 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 3-for-9 RISP, 6 LOB
NEXT GAME: Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. ET at Citizens Bank Park – LHP Ross Detwiler (2-4, 3.02) returns to face LHP Cliff Lee (8-2, 2.55)