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Nationals drop fourth straight, 8-2 to Phillies: Jordan Zimmermann hit hard in "last start" in D.C.

What could potentially be his last start in front of the Nationals Park crowd did not go well for Nats' right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who gave up six hits and six runs on three home runs (one an inside-the-park slam) in an 8-2 loss to the Phillies.

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5. Zimmermann in D.C.: In his seven-year career, 29-year-old, '07 Washington Nationals' second round pick Jordan Zimmermann was (39-21) with a 3.04 ERA, 3.58 FIP, 119 walks (1.86 BB/9) and 439 Ks (6.87 K/9) in 93 starts and 575 innings pitched in Nationals Park before taking the mound tonight, holding opposing hitters to a .240/.287/.367 line in the nation's capital.

Barring a surprising turn of events this which leads to Zimmermann signing on to stay with the Nationals after they've talked but repeatedly failed to agree on a long-term deal for several years now, the Auburndale, Wisconson-born right-hander's start against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first game of this weekend's three-game set may very well have been his last.

"After the first, they kind of gave me the first punch in the face and I had to shut them down after that and I was throwing everything..." -Jordan Zimmermann on start vs the Marlins last time out

Zimmermann took the mound tonight with an (8-3) record after eighteen starts in D.C. this season (vs a 5-5 record in 13 starts outside of Nats Park), a 2.50 ERA (vs 5.02), a 3.26 FIP (vs 4.17) and a .232/.276/.330 line against in 115 ⅓ IP (vs a .299/.343/.468 line in 75 ⅓ IP on the road).

Zimmermann's start against the Nats' NL East rivals from the City of Brotherly Love was his second this month after he gave up seven hits, a walk and six runs in six innings in an 8-7 win last week in Citizens Bank Park in which he received no decision.

He followed that outing up with a solid start against the Miami Marlins in which he gave up six hits, a walk and two runs in a 5-2 win in which he extended his current unbeaten streak to seven starts, over which he was (5-0) with a 4.04 ERA and a .263/.322/.481 line against in 42 ⅓ innings.

Both runs he allowed came in the first, but Zimmermann settled in after that and threw five scoreless innings against the Marlins before he was done for the night.

"Breaking ball was good," Matt Williams said after the start.

"Fastball, velocity wasn't quite there today, pitched at 92-93, turned it up a couple of times, but he used his breaking ball effectively and got through the innings he got through, got through six."

This time out, Zimmermann's start began with a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 first in which he recored two Ks.

Cody Asche lined a single to right with one down in the Phillies' second, but he was doubled up on a grounder to second off Andres Blanco's bat. 4-6-3. An 11-pitch frame left Zimmermann at 21 total after two.

Zimmermann issued a five-pitch walk to Brian Bogusevic in the first at bat of the third and a line drive single to center by Cameron Rupp in the next at bat. Jerad Eickhoff tried to give away an out, but Zimmermann threw to third too late for the out. Freddy Galvis sent a fly to short-center in the next at bat, but not deep enough for a sac fly.

Aaron Altherr's lined a pretty sure-thing hit to center in the next at bat, but Michael Taylor made a diving attempt and came up empty. The ball rolled by Taylor and all the way to the warning track, allowing everyone including Altherr to score on a little league, inside-the-park grand slam. 24-pitch frame. 45 total after three.

Brian Bogusevic singled with one down in the Phillies' fourth, but back-to-back Ks followed in a 14-pitch inning that left Zimmermann at 59 pitches.

One out into the fifth, the Phillies had a 5-1 lead after Aaron Altherr hit a more respectable fly ball home run out to left though it seemed to get picked up by a jet stream. Altherr's second of the game and 5th of the season. Darin Ruf hit a 1-0 fastball out to left with two down to put the Phillies up 6-1 in the series opener. 20-pitch frame. 79 total after five.

Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 3 HRs, 79 P, 57 S, 3/0 GO/FO.

4. Eickhoff vs the Nationals: One of the sixth players acquired from Texas in the Cole Hamels/Jake Diekman trade in July, 2011 15th Round pick Jerad Eickoff was (9-4) with a 4.25 ERA, a 4.40 FIP, 33 walks (2.92 BB/9) and 93 Ks (8.23 K/9) in 18 games, 16 starts and 101 ⅔ innings pitched for the Rangers' top minor league affiliate before the deal and (2-1) with a 2.49 ERA, 2.42 FIP, three walks (1.25 BB/9) and 19 Ks (7.89 K/9) in 21 ⅔ IP with the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate before he was called up to make his MLB debut on August 21st.

In six starts in the Phillies' rotation, including his debut, Eickhoff was (1-3) before tonight's outing, with a 3.16 ERA, a 3.87 FIP, 11 walks (2.68 BB/9) and 29 Ks (7.05 K/9) in 37 IP, over which he held opposing hitters to a .223/.280/.384 line.

Eickhoff, whose arsenal includes a fastball (91 mph to 94), a curve (75.5-78.2), slider (81.9-86), changeup (84.4-86.9), two-seam fastball (90.8-92.9) and a cut fastball he's thrown just once (91.8), was coming off back-to-back seven-inning outings in which he gave up just one run in 14 innings.

Last time out, he threw seven scoreless against the Atlanta Braves in which he gave up five hits and two walks while striking out five batters.

His first start against the Nationals began with a double to left field by Anthony Rendon, who tore into a 90 mph 1-0 fastball from the Phillies' right-hander. Two outs later, Rendon scored on an RBI line drive to center by Jayson Werth, who put the Nats up, 1-0 after one. 14-pitch first.

Wilson Ramos singled with one down in the Nats' second, but he was stranded at the end of a 20-pitch frame. 34 total for Eickhoff after two.

Given a 4-1 lead to work with Eickhoff retired the Nationals in order in an 11-pitch third, striking Bryce Harper out with a 2-2 curve to end the inning at 45 pitches total after three.

Ian Desmond lined a single to center with two down in the bottom of the fourth, but he was stranded at first when Michael Taylor K'd swinging over a 2-2 bender. 13-pitch frame for Eickhoff, 58 total after four, 6 Ks.

Wilmer Difo grounded into a force at second, taking Wilson Ramos off the basepaths after a single and moved into scoring position on an Anthony Rendon walk, but Yunel Escobar grounded into a 6-4-3 DP in the next AB. 15-pitch frame, 73 total.

Bryce Harper K'd swinging for hte first out of the sixth, but Jayson Werth followed with a solo home run to left on the first pitch he saw in the next at bat, 6-2 Phillies. Werth's 12th. 15-pitch frame for Eickhoff, 88 total.

Eickhoff added two Ks in an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh. 10 Ks, 99 pitches. 6-2 Phillies.

Jerad Eickhoff's Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 99 P, 67 S, 6/2 GO/FO.

3. Random Game Notes: The Phillies started the three-game set in the nation's capital (1-5) on their current road trip.

• Over that stretch, however, Philly starters have put up a 1.62 ERA in 39 innings, allowing two earned runs or less in each of the starts.

• In today's Phillies-centric "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Philadelphia's offense has scored just 14 runs total in their last eighth games, (1.75 runs per game), with a .181/.237/.249 line as a team over that stretch.

• Heading into this weekend's series, which is the Phillies' last road series of the season, they're 24-54 outside of the City of Brotherly Love.

• A loss in any of the three games this weekend would give them more losses on the road in any single season since 1942.

• The series in D.C. was the Nationals' first since May. In Nats Park the Phillies are just 12-23 in 35 games since 2012.

• In today's Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Washington's offense is ranked first in the majors in walks (163), first in OBP (.365), third in runs scored (201) and runs per game (5.74) and fourth in batting average (.278), home runs (50) and slugging percentage (.461) in 35 games going back to August 18th.

• Bryce Harper started tonight's game one walk shy of the franchise record for walks in a single season, behind only Montreal Expos' slugger Ken Singleton, who took 123 in 1973.

• Harper entered tonight's game ranked first in the NL in AVG (.339), OBP (.471), SLG (.665), runs scored (116), home runs (41) and Wins Above Replacement (9.7 fWAR).

• In 22 games in September, Bryce Harper has put up a .397/.543/.912 line with five doubles, 10 HRs, 24 walks and 24 runs scored.

2. Turning Point(s): Anthony Rendon's 14th double of the 2015 campaign was a line drive to left field on a 90 mph 1-0 fastball from Jerad Eickhoff that was just out of the reach off Phillies' left fielder Aaron Altherr.

Two outs later, Rendon was still standing on second when Jayson Werth stepped in and lined a 3-1 fastball to the left-center gap for an RBI single that put the Nationals up 1-0 after one in the nation's capital.

• The Phillies loaded the bases with no one out in the third with a walk, single and attempted sac bunt on which Jordan Zimmermann threw late to third trying to cut the lead runner down.

One out later, Phillies' outfielder Aaron Altherr stepped in and lined a 94 mph 1-1 fastball to center for what looked like a hit, before Michael Taylor turned it into an inside-the-park grand slam with an ill-advised diving attempt that came up empty.

• Altherr and Darin Ruf hit solo shots to left off Zimmermann in the fifth to put the Phillies ahead, 6-1 after four and a half.

1. The Wrap-Up: Sammy Solis took over on the mound for the Nationals in the sixth and retired the Phillies in order in a nine-pitch frame.

• Aaron Altherr's third hit of the night was a two-out double off Solis in the seventh, but he was stranded at the end of the second scoreless frame by Solis.

Rafael Martin gave up a leadoff double by Darin Ruf in the top of the eighth and a two-run home run by Cody Ashce, 8-2 Phillies.

Dalier Hinojosa retired the Nationals in order in the eighth.

Matt Grace worked around a two-out single by Aaron Altherr for a scoreless top of the ninth.

Luis Garcia came on to end it and worked around back-to-back, one-out singles by Clint Robinson and Ian Desmond for a scoreless frame. 8-2 Phillies. Ballgame.

Nationals now 78-75