Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos all took 34-year-old Philadelphia Phillies' lefty Cliff Lee deep the last time they faced him in Citizens Bank Park back on July 10th. Washington won that one 5-1 and Lee went on the DL after the start. He'd made two starts since returning from the Disabled List before tonight, giving up a combined 15 hits and nine runs, eight earned in consecutive losses to the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves. Lee took the mound in the bottom of the first tonight after a scoreless, 12-pitch top of the inning by 24-year-old Nationals' right-hander Taylor Jordan.
Davey Johnson talked before today' s game about leaving Denard Span atop the order for the rest of the season, where the Nationals imagined the 29-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder would hit when they acquired him from the Minnesota Twins last winter. Span, who's struggled mightily against lefties this season (.153/.210/.180), entered the game 7 for 28 career vs Lee. Span took the first pitch he saw from the Phillies' left-hander back up the middle for a leadoff single, but he was erased on a 4-6-3 DP off Ryan Zimmerman's bat in the next AB. Bryce Harper walked with two down in front of Jayson Werth, but Lee's former teammate K'd looking to end a 16-pitch bottom of the first inning.
Before tonight, Taylor Jordan surrendered just three home runs in 131 IP between High-A, Double-A and the majors this season. Darin Ruf hit the fourth in 132 IP in the top of the second, bringing Domonic Brown around with a two-run blast to left on a first-pitch fastball after the Phillies' outfielder had singled to start the inning on another first-pitch heater. 2-0 Phillies. Singles by Cody Asche and Michael Martinez put runners on the corners with one down, and a safety squeeze by Cliff Lee allowed Asche to score and make it 3-0 early in Nationals Park. Jimmy Rollins drove in another run with a single to center that made it 4-0, but Jordan struck Michael Young out and popped Chase Utley up to end a 28-pitch second at 40 pitches overall.
Cliff Lee, who's stingy with the walks, put Ian Desmond on in the first at bat of the Nats' second with his second free pass of the game, but after Adam LaRoche flew to center, Ian Desmond was running and was doubled up when Wilson Ramos lined out to center to end a 14-pitch inning by the Phillies' left-handed starter. 4-0 Phillies.
Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf and Cody Asche went down in order in a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 third by Taylor Jordan that had the right-hander at 50 overall after three. Cliff Lee struck Anthony Rendon and Jordan out on the way to a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 third of his own that had the veteran lefty up to 40 pitches after three in D.C. with a 4-0 lead.
Phillies' catcher Carlos Ruiz took the second pitch of the fourth inning to center for a leadoff single. Michael Martinez singled in the next at bat for the seventh hit of the night off Taylor Jordan. Cliff Lee failed in an attempt to bunt the runners over, however, and Jimmy Rollins grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3. 12-pitch inning, 62 overall for Taylor Jordan, eight ground ball outs.
Ryan Zimmerman doubled into the left field bullpen on a bounce to start the Nationals' fourth with his 20th two-base hit of 2013. Jayson Werth drove Zimmerman in with an RBI single to center off Cliff Lee that made it 4-1, then went around to third when Ian Desmond doubled to center field on a first-pitch change from the Phillies' lefty. Double no.30 for Desmond. Adam LaRoche's groundout to first brought Werth in to make it 4-2, but Wilson Ramos grounded out to end the bottom of the fourth inning.
Ian Desmond made a strong throw from deep in the hole at short to get Taylor Jordan the first out of the fifth and nine ground ball outs on the night. Jordan walked Chase Utley with one down, but Domonic Brown sent ground ball out no.10 out to second, where Anthony Rendon made the play. Darin Ruf K'd swinging over an 0-2 slider to end a 15-pitch fifth that had Jordan up to 77 pitches total. Cliff Lee got two quick outs on eight pitches in the bottom of the fifth, but Denard Span doubled to right and off the out-of-town scoreboard for his second hit in three at bats tonight, bringing Ryan Zimmerman to the plate with a runner in scoring position and two down. Zimmerman flew out to right field, however, to end a 13-pitch inning by Lee that had him up to 74 after five.
Taylor Jordan's Line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 77 P, 54 S, 10/1 GO/FO.
Tanner Roark retired the Phillies in order in a six-pitch top of the sixth inning. Cliff Lee got a weak grounder to first out of Bryce Harper, but Jayson Werth was 2 for 3 tonight (and 45 for 112 since July 1st) after he singled to right with one down. Ian Desmond K'd looking at a full-count cutter for out no.2 of the Nats' sixth, but Adam LaRoche took a pitch off the hand and took his base to bring Wilson Ramos up with two on and two out and Ramos lined a single to right to make it a 4-3 game. Anthony Rendon's groundout to third ended the sixth. One run game after six in D.C.
Tanner Roark got the first two outs of the seventh with five pitches and completed his second scoreless inning of work one pitch later for two innings and six outs on 12 pitches total.
Phillies' lefty Jake Diekman took over in the bottom of the seventh and gave up a nine-pitch leadoff walk to Steve Lombardozzi. Denard Span was 2 for 3 tonight, with a double, but Davey Johnson had him bunt Lombardozzi over to second/give up an out. Diekman stayed in to face Ryan Zimmerman with a runner in scoring position and one out and allowed Lombardozzi to steal third before Zimmerman walked. Bryce Harper was 0 for 2 with a walk when he stepped in against Diekman and popped up a bunt that dropped in to bring Lombardozzi in from third and tie it up, 4-4. The Phillies got force at second for out no.2, but Jayson Werth's third hit of the night and the 1,000th of his career was a two-run blast to left off Zach Miner in the next at bat that made it a 6-4 game in the Nationals' favor. No.17 of 2013 for Werth. Ian Desmond doubled for the second time tonight and the 31st time this season in the AB after the HR, so the Phillies walked Adam LaRoche to get to Wilson Ramos, whose infield single loaded the bases. Anthony Rendon lined to left in the next at bat and drove in two more to make it 8-4 before the Phillies got out of the seventh.
Tyler Clippard gave up a solo home run by Domonic Brown in an 11-pitch eighth inning after which it was 8-5 in the Nationals' favor. Luis Garcia took over for the Phillies in the bottom of the eighth and gave up a two-out walk but nothing else to keep it close. Cue his music...
Rafael Soriano came on in the ninth looking for save no. 29 of 2013. "Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano!" Carlos Ruiz flew to right center, where Denard Span made a running catch for out no.1! ONE! Michael Martinez grounded sharply to second for out no.2. Casper Wells came on in a pinch hit appearance and went down swinging. Ballgame.
Work's done! Untuck that jersey, son!
Nationals now 56-60.