"It was tough," Davey Johnson said after the Washington Nationals battled back to tie it at 4-4 in the top of the ninth only to lose it 5-4 on a two-out walk-off single by Domonic Brown in the bottom of the inning. Chad Tracy hit a two-out, two-strike home run off Philadelphia Phillies' closer Jonathan Papelbon in the Nats' ninth, but left-hander Fernando Abad surrendered leadoff and one-out singles in the home-half of the inning, putting runners on first and third, and after Abad struck pinch hitter Steven Lerud out Brown got hold of a 93 mph 2-2 fastball inside and hit a line drive to center for the walk-off winner.
Johnson said Abad left the pitch up, which he did, though the manager thought it was a changeup instead of what MLB.com's Gameday said was a 93 mph fastball. "But we fought back," Johnson said, "It was a good ballgame. The bullpen did a good job, we can't fault that. But a tough loss."
Asked about going to Abad in the ninth, Johnson said he couldn't warm right-hander Drew Storen up quickly enough when the game was tied on Tracy's home run with two down in the top of the ninth. "When we tied it up late," the manager explained, "I couldn't get [Storen] ready in time because I didn't want him to warm up and with the first guy [Ben Revere] left-handed, if Abad gets him I got to Storen, if he doesn't [Abad's] got to hold the guys on, it's that simple."
"I liked the matchup right there," Johnson said of the final at bat with Abad and Brown going lefty vs lefty with two down, "We just didn't come out on top, that's all. Tough one. We'll get them tomorrow."
"That's big, that's good," Phillies' manager Charlie Manuel said of Brown's walk-off winner. "He stayed on the lefty good, hit the ball off the end of the bat kind of, but at the same time we got the right results."
Long before the game was decided, Dan Haren started for the Nationals in the first game of three with the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park. Haren gave up seven hits, three walks and four runs in 6.0 IP in which he threw 115 pitches, 65 for strikes. Ryan Howard hit a letter-high 2-2 cutter out for a towering home run that reached the second deck in right over the AT&T sign to tie it after the Nats took an early 1-0 lead. Delmon Young hit a two-out, two-run double to right in the third to make it 3-1 Phillies and after the Nationals pulled within one in the fourth, Howard struck again with an RBI single in the fifth that made it 4-2.
"[Haren] pitched good in spots and he left some balls out over the plate," the Nats' 70-year-old skipper said, "finished up strong, but it's a tough ballgame." Rough as some of Haren's recent outings have been though, Johnson didn't seem ready to give up on the veteran right-hander just yet when asked how long they would stick with the inconsistent 32-year-old starter. "We have a lot of faith in him," Johnson said, "He'll be fine."
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