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Instant analysis: Phillies 7, Nats 2

May 3, 2014, 10:28 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals have shown an ability to come from behind this season, but they can’t count on doing it every single night. They definitely weren’t up to the task tonight, falling into an early hole and never digging their way out of it.

Tanner Roark took the brunt of the punishment, allowing seven runs over four innings and putting his teammates in a 3-0 hole in the first inning. It was the eighth time already this season a Nationals pitcher gave up at least three runs in the first. And it only got worse this time. The Phillies battered Roark around, taking some luster off the young right-hander’s otherwise magical career to date.

A.J. Burnett wasn’t about to let the Nationals claw their way back into this one. The veteran right-hander didn’t allow a hit until the fourth, and the only run he allowed in six innings was a solo homer to Adam LaRoche. Burnett would have kept pitching if not for a 24-minute rain delay before the top of the seventh. By then, the game was out of hand and both sides were left to play out the string.

The Nationals (17-13) wound up squandering an opportunity to take over first place in the NL East after the Braves lost their fifth straight game. They’ll take another crack at it Sunday in the series finale at Citizens Bank Park.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: They were playing from behind the entire night, but the Nationals did have a couple of opportunities early to get back in the game before it got out of hand. But they couldn’t deliver with runners in scoring position. Actually, they couldn’t even put the ball in play in most of the instances. They went 1-for-6 with RISP in the second and fourth innings combined, the one hit an infield single by Ian Desmond that didn’t even advance LaRoche. Four of the five outs were strikeouts, two of them by Danny Espinosa. Despite his overall solid numbers at the plate, Espinosa is now 2-for-29 with RISP this season.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: You wondered if Roark was going to have one of these nights eventually, and sure enough this was that night. The Phillies’ lineup was all over everything the right-hander threw. Ryan Howard torched him for a 3-run, opposite-field homer in the bottom of the first. Cody Asche hammered a 3-2 fastball in the bottom of the second for another homer. By the time Tony Gwynn Jr. and Jimmy Rollins each singled to open the fifth, Matt Williams decided he had seen enough. Roark wound up charged with a career-high seven earned runs in a career-low four-plus innings. Given how well he has pitched since debuting late last summer, he probably earned the right to pitch one stinker. The question now is how he’ll respond when he next takes the mound next weekend in Oakland.

KEY STAT: Zach Walters is now 3-for-14 this season with 3 homers, two walks and six strikeouts. He has only hit the ball in the field of play five times in 16 plate appearances.

UP NEXT: The series concludes with an unusual, 3:05 p.m. Sunday start, the byproduct of a 10-mile race being run in the morning near Citizens Bank Park. Gio Gonzalez gets the start against right-hander Robert Hernandez, who used to be known as Fausto Carmona, who is replacing scheduled starter Cole Hamels, who was scratched due to flu-like symptoms.

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - May 3, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    This Miami/Dodgers game is a good one. 9th inning!

  2. David Proctor - May 3, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    Roark was bad, Burnett was great. That’s about it for this one. It happens. Win tomorrow and finish a 4-1 roadtrip.

    Meanwhile, Dodgers imploding against the Fish.

  3. dcwx61 - May 3, 2014 at 10:31 PM

    yeah its on MLB

  4. dcwx61 - May 3, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    oh my…never saw a batter toss his bat like that…bad call

    Let’s see a 17 inn game to tire out the Dodgers

  5. NatsLady - May 3, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    I’m all for the Dodgers wearing themselves out with extra innings. Mets and Rox are tied, too.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 3, 2014 at 10:44 PM

      Brandon League for the bottom of the 10th. Hope the game keeps going.

      • David Proctor - May 3, 2014 at 10:49 PM

        If League is in, the Marlins are winning

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        Great, now Brandon League has confidence.

  6. David Proctor - May 3, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    Looks like the entire division is going to lose tonight (except the Phils obviously)

    • David Proctor - May 3, 2014 at 11:19 PM

      Well, the Mets have tied it AGAIN.

  7. veejh - May 3, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    I didn’t help that the ump and Burnett were in bed together. His stuff was good enough without the help.

  8. NatsLady - May 4, 2014 at 12:01 AM

    I know it’s Coors, but that Mets-Rox game. WILD!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 80 15.5
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Monday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 67 2.5
y-ST. LOUIS 88 69 4.0
-------------------------
PITTSBURGH 85 71 +0.5
SAN FRANCISCO 84 71 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Monday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
(End of regular season)
MON: OFF
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

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)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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