Aug 25, 2014, 3:39 PM EST
PHILADELPHIA — Hello from Citizens Bank Park, where a red-hot Nationals club coming off a 9-1 homestand now hopes to keep things rolling on one of the longer and tougher road trips of the season. A cross-country trek to Seattle and then Los Angeles looms, but first up are three games against the foundering Phillies, who are currently on pace to lose 90 games for the first time in 14 years.
One notable difference in tonight’s series opener lineup: Asdrubal Cabrera, who had tightness in his right side after a swing during yesterday’s game, is out. That means Danny Espinosa gets the start against right-hander A.J. Burnett, one day after clubbing a home run from the left side of the plate.
Tanner Roark gets the start for the Nationals. Updates to come, so please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 869, MLB.com
Weather: Mostly clear, 81 degrees, Wind 3 mph out to LF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
2B Danny Espinosa
RHP Tanner Roark
CF Ben Revere
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
RF Marlon Byrd
LF Domonic Brown
C Carlos Ruiz
3B Cody Asche
RHP A.J. Burnett
HP Jim Reynolds
1B Manny Gonzalez
2B Gary Cederstrom (cc)
3B Chris Segal
7:08 p.m. — We are underway with a strike from A.J. Burnett to Denard Span. There is nobody here tonight. I don’t ever remember a crowd this small in this ballpark.
7:12 p.m. — Burnett made very quick work of the top of the Nats’ lineup. He got Span to fly out, Anthony Rendon to ground out and then struck out Jayson Werth to complete a 9-pitch inning.
7:31 p.m. — Well, that was a scoreless bottom of the first for Tanner Roark, but it was also a laborious bottom of the first for the right-hander. He needed 32 pitches to face only five batters, with the Phillies lineup really battling him, especially Ryan Howard (who drew a 2-out walk to keep the inning going). Roark got out of the jam by striking out Marlon Byrd, but that’s way more effort than he wanted to expend in his first frame of the evening.
7:45 p.m. — Much better stuff from Roark in the bottom of the second. He retired the side on nine pitches, though Cody Asche did scorch a ball right at Danny Espinosa for the third out. The Nats, meanwhile, are still looking for their first baserunner against Burnett. Scoreless through two.
7:57 p.m. — Burnett is dealing so far tonight. He’s already got six strikeouts in three innings. The only Nat to reach base: Roark, who singled up the middle in the third.
8:15 p.m. — Still not much happening at the plate in this one. The Nats still have only Roark’s single and now Jayson Werth’s walk over four innings against Burnett, who has struck out seven. Roark has settled own since his shaky first inning, having now retired seven in a row. Still scoreless, bottom of the fourth.
8:25 p.m. — The Phillies had three clean hits in a row off Roark in the fourth, leading to the night’s first run, but the Nats didn’t exactly play crisp defense behind him. Werth misplayed Howard’s double off the wall in right. Worse, Espinosa couldn’t get to a sharp grounder to his right, one that could’ve turned into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Instead, the ball scooted under his glove, bringing home a run. The Nats trail 1-0 after four.
8:39 p.m. — Burnett continues his domination. He’s now got 10 strikeouts in five scoreless innings. The only bright side from the Nats’ standpoint: Burnett is already up to 88 pitches, so perhaps he won’t get too far in this game even if he keeps this up. Still 1-0 Phillies heading to the bottom of the fifth.
8:47 p.m. — Ouch, Roark just hung a 2-0 offspeed pitch to Cody Asche (I thought it was a curveball, Pitch F/X says it was a changeup) and watched it soar deep into the right field bleachers. Whatever the pitch, that was a meatball. And it leaves the Nats trailing 2-0 heading to the sixth.
8:54 p.m. — The good news: Rendon got a run back for the Nats in the bottom of the sixth, smoking a first-pitch fastball to left for his 17th homer of the season. The bad news: Burnett struck out two more in the inning, both Werth and LaRoche, and now has 12 K’s in six innings. The Nats still trail 2-1.
9:23 p.m. — Hoo-boy, the Phillies get another run in the bottom of the seventh when Ruiz crushes a 3-2 fastball from Jerry Blevins. The Nats were fortunate it was a solo shot, not a 2-run homer, after Matt Williams successfully got a call overturned. Brown was initially called safe on a bloop double to left, but upon review, he was tagged out after a nice throw by Harper. Even so, it’s a 3-1 game with the Nats down to their final six outs.
9:36 p.m. — The Nats tried to get something going in the eighth, when Kevin Frandsen doubled to right-center (his eighth hit in his last 13 at-bats) and Werth drew a 2-out walk. That left it up to LaRoche in a tough spot, needing to deliver a hit off tough lefty Jake Diekman. LaRoche battled to a 2-2 count but then grounded out to first. So the Nats are still down 3-1 and now are down to their final three outs.
9:42 p.m. — Last chance for the Nats. It’s Desmond, Harper and Ramos in the ninth against Jonathon Papelbon, down 2 runs.
9:54 p.m. — Game over. Nats lose 3-2 after Ramos homered with two outs and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a pinch-hit single. Nate Schierholtz, though, rapped a sharp grounder to short to end the game. They drop the opener of this 9-game road trip and fall back to 20 games over the .500 mark.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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