Sep 15, 2013, 4:41 PM EDT
Game in a nutshell: The Nationals opened the game hitting several balls hard against Tyler Cloyd but not having much to show for it. That changed in a hurry. The Nats blasted the right-hander for 10 hits in four-plus innings, opening up a comfortable lead. Then they went hog-wild on the Phillies bullpen, particularly during a 5-run seventh inning that blew this game wide open. The biggest star was Wilson Ramos, who in his 23rd straight game went 4-for-4 with a homer and 5 RBI. But Ramos hardly was alone in inflicting damage at the plate. Bryce Harper had three hits, including two doubles. Ian Desmond drove in three runs. And Denard Span had two hits to extend his streak to 26 games, one shy of the longest hitting streak in the majors this season (set by the Rockies’ Michael Cuddyer). Jordan Zimmermann took advantage of all that run support to earn his NL-leading 18th win. And the Nationals won for the 25th time in 35 games, improving to 79-70 but running out of time to catch the Reds for the league’s final Wild Card berth.
Hitting highlight: Who says Ramos can’t be productive after playing every day for more than three weeks? Making his 23rd consecutive start behind the plate, most by any major-league catcher this season, Ramos enjoyed a career afternoon at the plate. He singled in a run in the second, singled in another run in the fourth, launched his 15th homer in an injury-plagued year in the sixth and then for good measure drove in two more runs with a single in the seventh. He now has 49 RBI in 54 games since returning from the DL for good on July 4. Extrapolated out over 162 games, that would equal 147 RBI. That’s kind of a lot.
Pitching highlight: There wasn’t much particularly notable about Zimmermann’s performance today, aside from the fact he pitched well and churned out seven innings to put himself in line for the win. That’s his 18th of the season, tops in the National League and second-most in Nats history. Only Gio Gonzalez (21 last year) has won more games in a Nationals uniform. Zimmermann won’t get a chance to match that mark, but he can get to the 20-win plateau if he wins each of his final two starts.
Key stat: The Nationals went 14-5 in their now-complete, 19-game stretch against the Phillies, Mets and Marlins.
Up next: Now the Nationals get their first real test in a while when the Braves come to town for three games, with a chance to clinch the NL East title while they’re in town. Dan Haren faces Mike Minor in Monday’s 7:05 p.m. series opener.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
ON THE RADIO
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.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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