Sep 4, 2013, 10:10 PM EST
Game in a nutshell: The once-feared Roy Halladay was there for the taking early on, but the Nationals couldn’t take advantage of the former Cy Young Award winner’s wildness. Jordan Zimmermann also got off to a shaky start but rebounded to toss five straight scoreless innings and keep the game close. Ryan Zimmerman’s solo homer in the seventh tied the game, 2-2. The Nationals then went out of their way to manufacture the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth. But the real stars of the game were the guys in the field, who accounted for three spectacular plays to prevent the Phillies from scoring key runs. Zimmerman fired home for one big out in the seventh. Lombardozzi and Zimmermann teamed up for one of the plays of the year to end that inning. Jhonatan Solano then pulled off a rare, unassisted double play by a catcher to end the eighth and preserve a 1-run lead. Rafael Soriano finished things off in the ninth, securing a series victory for the Nationals and putting them three games over .500.
Hitting highlight: How did the Nationals score the go-ahead run in the eighth? Via a walk, a pinch-hitter putting down his first sacrifice bunt in four years, a pinch-runner stealing third base without a throw and then a chopper over the pitcher’s mound for an RBI fielder’s choice. Not your typical Davey Johnson rally. But, hey, whatever works. Wilson Ramos got it started by drawing a walk. Scott Hairston then converted his first sac bunt since July 30, 2009. Jeff Kobernus, pinch-running for Ramos, swiped third base with ease. And Lombardozzi’s chopper over the mound was well-placed enough to bring Kobernus home. That’s one way to get the job done.
Pitching highlight: Zimmermann was all over the place early on, needing 49 pitches to get through the first two innings and allowing a two-run double to Cesar Hernandez. But the right-hander righted his ship and wound up turning in a fine performance. Zimmermann retired eight in a row and then finished strong, thanks in no small part to his glove. With two out a man on second in the seventh, he got Hernandez to hit a slow roller to the right side of the infield, past a lunging Adam LaRoche. Lombardozzi, though, got to the ball and made an off-balance throw to first. That throw skipped, only to be snagged by Zimmermann on the short-hop, just a hair before Hernandez arrived. It was a phenomenal play on both ends, it prevented the go-ahead run from scoring and ultimately it put the right-hander in line to earn his 16th win.
Key stat: This was the first time Roy Halladay walked five batters and hit two more in his major-league career.
Up next: After a day off in Miami, the Nationals get back to work Friday night against the Marlins. Dan Haren starts the series opener against rookie sensation Jose Fernandez.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
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