Sunday, the Nationals finished off a come-from-behind, 11-inning, 11-10 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers to finish a road swing 6-1. After having Monday off, they have lost two straight to a Phillies team that entered the series 161
2 games behind them in the National League East and staged a fire sale Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve been a little flat since our Sunday in Milwaukee,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “Guys are a little bit banged up from it. We’ll be all right tomorrow.”
In the ninth inning, the Nationals nearly stunned the Phillies. Danny Espinosa stung a 1-2 fastball from closer Jonathan Papelbon to the opposite field. Left fielder Domonic Brown rushed back to the fence. On a warmer night, the drive may have sneaked over the wall and into the Phillies’ bullpen. Wednesday, the wind blew in from left and the ball settled in Brown’s glove as he rubbed against the fence. Again, the charm of the Nationals’ season had skipped this night.
“I couldn’t have hit that ball any harder,” Espinosa said. “I thought I crushed it.”
The Nationals (61-42) had to settle for staying 21
2 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves, whose seven-game winning streak ended. Their offense slacked again without Zimmerman, scoring two runs one night after Cliff Lee and the Phillies bullpen shut them out.
Collectively, though, the Nationals wilted against Vance Worley. They grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning, taking advantage of singles by Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche and two miscues by the Phillies infield. They threatened again in the second inning before Jackson tried to score from second on Harper’s single and was cut down at the plate by Brown. After Chad Tracy led off the third with a single, Worley retired 14 of the final 16 batters he faced.
“You look at today and we all got pitches to hit, and we didn’t do it for the most part,” LaRoche said. “We put a little something together early, and then I missed a bunch of pitches after the first at-bat. So, a frustrating day.”
Said Worley: “It seemed like every time I got ahead, I couldn’t put the guy away. I’m glad they got themselves out. If they want to get themselves out, that’s fine with me.”
Worley exited after seven innings, at which point Zimmerman’s presence appeared to give the Nationals life. Josh Lindblom, the reliever the Phillies acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Shane Victorino trade on Tuesday, jogged in with one out in the eighth to make his first appearance for Philadelphia. Zimmerman roped a 2-1 slider up the middle, past Rollins’s dive, for a single. In his career, he is 7 for 16 with two walks off the bench.