The comeback Nats struggled to come back in Philadelphia.
In their second one-run loss of the series, the Washington Nationals (75-56) fell 3-4 to the Philadelphia Phillies (60-72) in a game highlighted by homers.
The starting pitchers for both teams – Gio Gonzalez for Washington and Cole Hamels for Philly – put in quality starts for their teams. The few mistakes they did make ended up out of the park.
The game was scoreless until the fifth inning, when Grady Sizemore led off with a triple to right and Freddy Galvis followed with a two-run home run over left field. The homer was Galvis’ first of the year.
Gonzalez settled down to get five of the next six batters out, but in the sixth he hung a fastball to Darin Ruf to add another run to the Phillies’ lead.
After six complete innings, Gonzalez’s night was over. He had allowed the three runs on only six hits with one walk and four strikeouts, but the three-run deficit was too much for the Nationals hitters to mount in the face of the night Hamels had.
Through six innings, Hamels had allowed only three hits with five strikeouts on just 59 pitches (an average of 9.8 per inning). Everything was going his way as the Phillies challenged a call in the first inning that changed Anthony Rendon’s single to a groundout, and Hamels caught Ian Desmond stealing second to end the fourth.
The wheels began to fall off for Hamels in a 22-pitch seventh, but the Nationals weren’t able to turn their four singles and one walk into more than two runs. Rendon, Desmond and Scott Hairston set the table for Wilson Ramos and Kevin Frandsen to single them home, but Danny Espinosa and Denard Span both hit into outs to leave two men on base and kill the rally.
Despite the trouble in the seventh, Hamels had still thrown only 81 pitches, so he was allowed to retake the mound for the eighth. But he gave up a leadoff home run to Asdrubal Cabrera to tie the game, which ended his night.
Ken Giles (W, 3-1) struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth, and closer Jonathan Papelbon (SV, 33) faced the minimum in the ninth to squelch the chance of a Nationals comeback.
Tyler Clippard (L, 7-3) gave up the winning run in the eighth inning, after the Phillies successfully challenged their second call of the night. Leading off the inning, Ben Revere was initially called out, but upon review Desmond was given a throwing error and Revere was given first base. Revere then stole second, and moved his way around the remaining bases on sacrifice flies to ultimately score and secure the win.
It was a tough-luck game for the Nationals, who lost just their second series of the month and lowered their August record to a still dominant 17-8. They retained a 7.5-game lead on the NL East with the Braves losing to the Mets, so there is no need to panic despite two losses in a row.