The Washington Nationals offense, missing much of the season, had been flourishing the past week or so, scoring eight or more runs in five of their last eight games, all wins. But this season, they’ve hit lefties at an atrocious pace, .218/.283/.343. Unfortunately, the Philadelphia Phillies will trot out three left-handed starters in the first three games of the series, starting with former Nats starter John Lannan.
Lannan dominated the Nats for eight innings, leading the Phillies to a 3-2 win over the Nats, busting up Washington’s four-game win streak. The loss drops the Nats record to 46-43, 4 1/2 games behind Atlanta pending their late result.
Dan Haren, the Nats $13 million off-season free agent prize, came off the disabled list for the start and the Phillies didn’t waste any time laying into him in the first inning. Ben Revere singled to right on the second pitch of the game, and after a pickoff attempt, Jimmy Rollins did the same. Haren got Chase Utley to, um, chase a cutter for strike three, but Revere and Rollins executed a double steal on the play.
Domonic Brown then lashed a ball off Haren’s shin, which caromed toward the first base line. All hands were safe, and Revere scored on the play. Michael Young drew a base on balls, and Delmon Young struck out. Darin Ruf, in his first appearance up from the minor with the Phillies assignment of Ryan Howard to the D.L. with impending meniscus surgery, walked to force in a run to make it 2-0 at the end of the first inning.
Haren (L, 4-10, 6.00) didn’t really “calm down” all that much for the next four innings, but he did keep the Phillies from scoring again. In his first start off the disabled list, Haren gave up two runs on seven hits and three walks, striking out seven along the way. He threw 59 of his 95 pitches for strikes.
Fernando Abad took over in the sixth and ran into trouble of his own. With two outs, Revere doubled to left field and scored when Rollins singled to right field, just beating the throw home.
Phillies starter John Lannan, the Nats two-time opening day starter, held the Nats in check over his eight innings of work. Lannan (W, 2-3, 4.23) allowed just four hits and two walks with four Ks, earning his second win of the season, both over the Nationals.
The Nats finally broke through against Phils closer Jonathan Papelbon, but it ultimately wasn’t enough. Bryce Harper led off the ninth with a single up the middle, and went to third on Ryan Zimmerman’s double off the base of the wall in right center. Jayson Werth rode one to center that Revere caught up to on the warning track and Harper scored easily with Zimmerman moving to third. Adam LaRoche plated Zimmerman with a sac fly, but Chad Tracy’s soft pop fly to center ended the comeback.
THE GOOD: Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman had two hits apiece and fueled the Nats comeback attempt in the ninth inning. Ross Ohlendorf gave them two innings of scoreless relief, striking out three in the process.
THE BAD: Lack of offense. The Nats have been hitting of late, but they need to have some success against the lefties in the Phillies rotation this week. Expect new acquisition Scott Hairston, who has great career numbers against Cole Hamels, to start Tuesday.
THE UGLY: Ian Desmond. 0-for-4 with 3 Ks against Lannan. Chased everything, Lannan really carved him up.
THE STATS: 6 hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. 0-for-1 with RISP, 5 LOB. E: Ramos (4, fielding); no DPs.
NEXT GAME: Tuesday at 7:10 pm against the Phillies. Taylro Jordan (0-1, 2.70) faces Cole Hamels (3-11, 4.38).