Sep 14, 2013, 10:31 PM EDT
Game in a nutshell: The Nationals entered Saturday with a significant challenge in Cole Hamels, even with the reeling Phillies playing behind him. They were baffled by the lefty for the better part of six innings, but did manage three runs off of him. He gave up one in the first and two in the seventh, with five scoreless frames in between. The Nats got four total runs off Philly, however, it was not enough to offset a rocky evening by Gio Gonzalez and a rough inning by Ian Krol. The Phillies scored four runs in the fifth inning off Gonzalez to take the initial lead, and the Nats just couldn’t complete the comeback. The loss is Washington’s first since Sept. 6 and is a costly one as the Reds beat the Brewers earlier in the day. The Nats will now try and make it two of three against the Phils on Sunday as they sit 5 1/2 games out of the NL Wild Card.
Pitching lowlight: Gonzalez wasn’t particularly sharp all evening, despite him beginning with four scoreless frames, and it caught up to him big time in the fifth inning. The Phillies pushed four runs across off Gio in the fifth, on a solo home run by John Mayberry and a bases-clearing double by Carlos Ruiz. Mayberry led the inning off with his smash into the bullpen in left field. Ruiz hit his double with the bases loaded and two outs, sailing a line drive over Werth’s head and off the wall. Gonzalez finished with nine hits and four runs allowed through six innings pitched. He also gave up two walks and the homer.
Hitting highlight: After coming up with next to nothing off Hamels for six innings, the Nats finally got something going in the seventh. Scott Hairston, who has had a great history against the lefty, led off with a single and was followed by Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman singles to load the bases. They got one run on an Ian Desmond sacrifice fly to center field off Justin De De Fratus and another two on a Bryce Harper bloop single to center field off of Cesar Jimenez. Three runs in the inning was the final result, although they probably hoped for more. With Harper on third and two outs, Ramos took an inside curveball that looked off the plate, but home plate umpire Jim Joyce called it a strike to end the inning.
Key stat: Denard Span extended his hit streak to 25 games and also notched a career-high three stolen bases. That’s only the second time a Nationals player has stolen three bases in a game since 2005. The other was Nyjer Morgan on July 22, 2010.
Up next: The Nationals and Phillies close this series out with a Sunday matinee. Jordan Zimmermann (17-8, 3.36) will pitch for Washington with Tyler Cloyd (2-4, 4.56) taking the ball for Philly.
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 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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