If you missed tonight’s game, you might count yourself fortunate. The Nats and Phillies took nearly four hours to commit four errors and issue 13 walks. But when the dust settled, the Nats (70-68) were on top.
In one of the ugliest games of the season for two teams having ugly years, the Nationals topped the Phillies (63-76), 9-6.
A win by the Cincinnati Reds kept them 7.5 games ahead of the Nats, and playoff hopes are fading fast as the Nats have only 24 games left. On the bright side, Arizona’s third straight loss dropped them behind the Nats in the wild card chase.
The Nats got off to a good start, but it would not hold up. After a hit by pitch and walk by Phillies starter Ethan Martin in the second inning, Wilson Ramos unloaded on a pitch to give the Nats their first hit of the game and an early 3-0 lead.
Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez had a relatively smooth first few innings, despite a pair of walks in the first. He ran into trouble in the fourth, when the Nats committed the first three of their errors. Ryan Zimmerman had trouble with a ball from Carlos Ruiz, and Cody Asche would plate two runs with a two-out single, saddling Gonzalez with two unearned runs and a reduced 3-2 lead.
Not to be outdone, the Phillies would relinquish their gains in embarrassing fashion in the top of the fifth. Martin loaded the bases with two outs, but walked in a run and was pulled. His replacement, Justin De Fratus, proceeded to walk the next batter and drive in another run. That closed the book on Martin, who finished with quite a peculiar line: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 5 BB.
Confident in themselves, the Nats piled on in the sixth. An error and a balk helped the Nats add two more runs and take a seemingly comfortable 7-2 lead. But the Nats gave their advantage right back in the home half, allowing three runs thanks to two consecutive errors by Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper. Gonzalez finished with a line that encapsulated the night: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K.
The weirdness of this game knew no bounds. Phillies pitchers combined to throw 180 pitches, but fewer than half (88) were strikes. The teams would trade solo homers from Asche and callup Corey Brown, but the final run came on a strikeout wild pitch. Yes, you read that correctly.
Staked to a 9-6 lead in the ninth, Rafael Soriano did his best to make the game exciting, but his walk and single given up were not enough to turn the game over as the Nats locked down.
The Nats will aim to win the series tomorrow as they desperately blow on the almost-cold ashes of their playoff hopes. Jordan Zimmermann (15-8, 3.33) will take on Roy Halladay (3-4, 7.94) who has returned from the injury that derailed his season in April to allow seven runs over eleven innings.