Ross Detwiler and Cliff Lee put on quite the pitcher’s duel Tuesday night, but the Washington Nationals failed to play catch-up yet again as the Philadelphia Phillies rounded out a 4-2 win.
Washington (34-36) has dropped three in a row and five of eight so far in their nine-game, three-city road trip, with one to play. The Nats fall to a season-worst two games below .500 and are tied with the Phillies (35-37) for second place in the NL East – seven games behind the Atlanta Braves (42-30).
The Nats had a golden opportunity to pick up as many as two games against the Braves, as Atlanta was swept by the New York Mets in a double-header, but Washington was not up to the task.
Detwiler (L, 2-5) looked sharp in his first five innings pitched, allowing just one run on three hits. But the Nats lefty, making just his second start off the disabled list, ran out of gas in the sixth inning, marring his final line. By the end of his night, Detwiler allowed four runs in 6.0 innings on seven hits — though he did not walk a batter and struck out four.
In the meantime, Jayson Werth put Washington out in front first, 1-0, in the fourth on a two-out solo home run off his former teammate.
The Phillies responded quickly in the bottom of the fourth after Michael Young led off with a double and advanced to third on a Jimmy Rollins sacrifice bunt. Ryan Howard quickly drove a sacrifice fly to right to bring home the tying run, but Detwiler finished off the inning by forcing Domonic Brown to line to first.
Both teams failed to score in the fifth, but in the sixth, the Phillies made their move.
After Ben Revere led off with a single, Young hit his second of three doubles on the night to plate Revere for the go-ahead run. Rollins followed up with a single before Howard was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Detwiler was able to bear down, regain composure, and strike out Brown and Delmon Young swinging, but light-hitting utility infielder Kevin Frandsen hit a sinking liner to left field that Steve Lombardozzi had to play on a short hop — after originally breaking back on the swing — to drive in Michael Young and Rollins, putting Philly on top 4-1.
The Nats managed only one more run – in the form of Jeff Kobernus’s first career homer – in the eighth inning. By that point, the game had landed into the hands of Washington’s relief corps, which provided near-perfect support as the Nats’ bats went quiet once again.
As for Lee (W, 9-2), in 8.0 innings pitched, he allowed just two runs on five hits and struck out nine.
THE GOOD: In the end, regardless of how poor the Nationals’ offense has been, Ross Detwiler did lose his spark in the sixth inning. Prior to that, however, he threw 55 of 85 pitches for strikes on the evening and allowed no walks.
Jeff Kobernus, at the least, deserves a tip of the cap for his first career home run. Kobernus entered the game to pinch-hit for Craig Stammen.
THE BAD: Almost like clockwork, the Nationals can’t seem to record a win when scoring fewer than five runs in a game. Unfortunately for Washington, run support has been a major challenge for the Nats as of late.
THE UGLY: The Nationals were 0-for-0 with runners in scoring position Tuesday night. That’s right, not a single batter stepped into the box with a runner on second or third… not once.
THE STATS: 2 R, 6 H, 9 K, 0-for-0 RISP, 4 LOB
NEXT GAME: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m against the Phillies. Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.40) vs. Kyle Kendrick (6-4, 3.76)