The Washington Nationals’ struggles against left-handed pitching was on display again, as Cole Hamels became the latest southpaw to dominate the team, despite manager Davey Johnson subbing recently obtained Scott Hairston in for left-handed hitting Denard Span at the top of the lineup.
Hamels allowed just a solo home run in eight innings to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-2 win over the Nats, taking the first two games of the four-game set. The Nats record falls to 46-44, 5 1/2 games behind Atlanta, pending their late result.
Hairston led off the game with a clean single (and was erased on a double play), but the Nats were unable to muster any attack against Hamels (W, 4-11. 4.17) the rest of the way.
The Nats did dent the scoreboard first in the second inning, when Jayson Werth yanked a 1-1 outside fastball over the left-center field fence for his ninth home run of the season. That was the Nats second hit of the game and they would not get another one until the seventh inning.
The Phillies got to Taylor Jordan in the fourth. With two outs, Chase Utley doubled to center. On Domonic Brown’s single, Utley came around to score on a close play at the plate, except Kurt Suzuki couldn’t handle the catch. Brown went to second on the throw, and advanced to third when Suzuki threw the ball away and into center field. Brown was stranded as Jordan struck out Michael Young to end the frame.
Jordan (L, 0-2, 3.45) found more trouble in the sixth. Ben Revere led off with a single to center, and Jimmy Rollins followed with a single to right field. Utley grounded to Adam LaRoche at first, but LaRoche’s throw went in-and-out of shortstop Ian Desmond’s glove and into left field. Revere scored and Rollins went to third on the play. After Brown popped out for the first out, Michael Young doubled to the warning track in center, plating both Rollins and Utley, ending Jordan’s night.
Jordan, in his third big league start, gave up four runs — three earned — on eight hits and a walk, striking out two. He threw 61 of his 89 pitches for strikes, and generated eight ground ball outs against three fly outs.
The Nats finally got to Hamels in the eighth inning, loading the bases on an infield single by Hairston, a wall-scraping single by Desmond that Hairston had to hold on, and a walk by Harper. But contentious at bats by Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth ended up as outs and the Nats rally fizzled.
Washington did score in the ninth, courtesy of an Anthony Rendon walk against reliever Antonio Bastardo and double by Wilson Ramos, but it was too little, too late.
THE GOOD: Scott Hairston. 2-for-4 in his first Nats appearance. He did what he was brought here to do.
THE BAD: Ryan Zimmerman. 0-for-4, 2 Ks, 3 LOB.
THE UGLY: Nats vs. left-handed pitching. They made contact on Hamels (only 4 Ks) but it was nothing but ground balls and weak fly balls. Even the rally in the eighth was keyed on an infield single and a walk.
THE STATS: 7 hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. 0-for-6 with RISP, 8 LOB. E: Suzuki (5, throw), LaRoche (6, throw); 3 DPs.
NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 7:05 against the Phillies. Gio Gonzalez (6-3, 3.14) faces Cliff Lee (10-2, 2.73).