Veteran right-hander Roy Halladay walked three batters in the first inning, loading the bases twice, but just one run scored on sac fly to left field by Adam LaRoche. Two runners reached base in the second Wednesday night in Citizens Bank Park, but the visiting Washington Nationals failed to add to their lead, so back-to-back singles and a two-run double in the bottom of the second gave the Philadelphia Phillies a 2-1 advantage. Halladay, who looked shaky at first in his third start back following surgery on his right shoulder in May, settled in after that, retiring 12 of the next 13 batters he faced in the series finale of the three-game set between the NL East division rivals.
"I was feeling sorry for [Halladay] the first couple of innings," 70-year-old Nationals' manager Davey Johnson told reporters following Washington's 3-2 win, "and then I was hating him as he went along because he got better. He started making better pitches with his fastball and his cutter and then he had a pretty good split going. But with all the walks he gave up we should have had him on the ropes, out of there early." Instead the 36-year-old, 16-year MLB veteran hung around through six. Before he was done for the night, however, he worked his way out of one more jam.
Nats' catcher Wilson Ramos singled with two down in the top of the sixth inning and recent call-up Corey Brown doubled to right field, putting two runners in scoring position with the score still 2-1 Philadelphia. Johnson, a veteran of 17 seasons as a major league manager, made a mistake there, at least in his own mind as he explained after the game.
"Where I really messed up," he said, "I should have had a guy warming up before Brown in case Brown did what he did so they'd pitch to [Steve] Lombardozzi. So they wouldn't know what I was going to do. But I thought about it and then after he got the double I ran over and [said], 'Get him up. Get him up!' But they weren't going to buy that."
Halladay walked Lombardozzi, loading the bases for the third time in six innings. Davey Johnson had a decision to make. Hit for Jordan Zimmermann, who was up to 77 pitches at that point, or leave the 27-year-old right-hander in, see what he could do and give him a chance to stay in and earn his 16th win of the season? "I knew I had to let him hit," Johnson said, "I was hoping it didn't come to that." And by hoping, he actually meant praying.
"Normally. Anybody else..." the Nats' skipper continued, "but the guy leading your club in wins, has been your steady guy all year long. I've got to give him every chance to win that ballgame. I looked at it before the inning started, I said, 'Oh, man. We may have two outs, bases loaded. Please. Please, Lord, don't let that happen.' Sure it happens." And Zimmermann, a career .170 hitter who was 1 for 4 with the bases loaded as a major league hitter before the at bat, grounded back to the mound on an 0-1 change to leave the Nationals behind 2-1 after five and a half in CBP.
"I was tempted to have a guy throwing earlier but I couldn't pinch hit in that situation with [Zimmermann]," Johnson reiterated. "I had to give him every chance to win this ballgame. And he pitched a heck of a game. That last inning was exciting." Zimmermann retired the Phillies in order in a 14-pitch bottom of the sixth, but things got interesting in the home-half of the seventh.
Ryan Zimmerman homered to tie things up at 2-2 in the top of the inning, but the home team threatened to strike right back when the first two batters Phillies' batters reached on a single and HBP and were bunted into scoring position by former Nationals' outfielder Roger Bernadina.
Kevin Frandsen grounded sharply to third in the next at bat, allowing Ryan Zimmerman to throw home where Wilson Ramos tagged the runner for the second out and Jordan Zimmermann somehow managed to get over to first on a sharp grounder to the right side by speedy outfielder Cesar Hernandez for the final out of the inning. Nats' second baseman Steve Lombardozzi showed some range getting to the ball, but his spinning throw was low, forcing the covering pitcher to scoop it up in stride. Zimmermann stepped on the bag as he caught it on a bounce and beat Hernandez to first to keep the go-ahead run from scoring on the play.
Ian Krol took over in the eighth after the Nationals went ahead 3-2 on an RBI groundout by Lombardozzi that scored pinch runner Jeff Kobernus from third after Kobernus took over on the basepaths for Wilson Ramos when the Nats' catcher walked to start the top of the inning. Krol got the first out, but gave up a single by Chase Utley, who took third when Carlos Ruiz singled off Craig Stammen, putting the tying run 60ft from home with one out.
"I didn't have [Drew] Storen or [Tyler]Clippard," Davey Johnson said in explaining his bullpen options at that point, "and so, my left-hander [Krol] didn't get the left-hander out and then Stammen gave up a base hit to a guy that doesn't usually hit him and then that double play..."
Darin Ruf K'd swinging at a 2-2 slider in the dirt that backup backstop Jhonatan Solano blocked but Chase Utley tried to score from third and tie it up as the ball rolled behind home to the left, only to have Solano collect it and lunge back toward home plate in time to tag Utley on the hip as the Phillies' infielder slid in for a strike'em out, tag'em out inning-ending DP. Rafael Soriano came out for the ninth, after the Nationals failed to add to their lead, and threw a quick, 1-2-3 bottom of the inning to wrap up the Nationals' 71st win and Zimmermann's 16th.
More from Federal Baseball:
- Nationals Take 2 Of 3 In CBP; Davey Johnson: "We Don't Feel Like We're Out Of This Thing."
- Game 139 WPA: Folks made some good plays today. Nats 3, FF 2
- Nationals 3-2 Over Phillies: Small Ball Victory In Citizens Bank Park.
- Bryce Harper Sits With Hip Issue: Nationals' Lineup For Finale With Phillies
- The Nats' Anthony Rendon's Rookie Season So Far, Part I