Two strong pitchers took the mound on Sunday for the final game of a four game series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals at Nats Park. Both left-handed pitcher Cole Hamels and right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg lasted seven innings but it was ultimately Philadelphia’s weak defense and Washington’s starter plus a clutch offense that won the Nationals the game 4-0.
Strasburg tallied ten strikeouts in his Sunday appearance. He gave up three hits and one walk on 99 pitches (69 strikes) to out duel Hamels and the Phillies. On the other end of things, Hamels gave up four hits and one unearned run while walking one batter and striking out six on 80 pitches (66 strikes).
What cost Philadelphia a shot at a win was their poor defense, most particularly in the in third inning. The Nationals’ catcher Jose Lobaton reached base with one out in the third inning when Philadelphia’s third baseman Cody Ashe made an error while fielding the ball Lobaton hit. Strasburg would lay down a sacrifice bunt to move Lobaton over before outfielder and leadoff man Denard Span hit a RBI-single to send Lobaton around to score; Phillies 0, Nats 1.
The pitcher’s duel continued but the Nats made it work for them once Hamels was pulled. A three-run rally in the eighth inning provided the necessary insurance runs for relief pitchers Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano to step in for the final two innings of work and do their jobs.
Clippard faced the minimum in the eighth while striking out two before the Nats added more runs. The top of the Nats’ order made that happen in the bottom half of the inning and it all started with Span taking a leadoff walk. Washington’s third baseman Anthony Rendon followed with a RBI-double sending Span around to score. Outfielder Jayson Werth kept the momentum going and hit another RBI-double to score Rendon; Phillies 0, Nats 3.
For whatever reason, the Phillies thought it was best to intentionally walk first baseman Adam LaRoche behind Werth. LaRoche didn’t end up scoring in the eighth but Werth did. A passed ball and wild pitch would bring Werth home before the rest of the Nats lineup struck out to end the rally; Phillies 0, Nats 4.
Soriano faced the minimum in the ninth when the Phillies’ two, three, four guys came up to the plate and tallied a backwards K against Philadelphia veteran first baseman Ryan Howard to end it and give the Nats the win.