Nationals homer their way past the Phillies, Gio Gonzalez goes seven strong

WP – G. Gonzalez (7-3) LP – C. Lee (10-3)

The Washington Nationals were able to pound out four solo homeruns off Cliff Lee to beat the Phillies in hopes of splitting this series. Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos hit back to back homeruns in the top of the fifth inning. Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth duplicated their teammates effort in the top of the sixth, crossing the crucial three run mark that seems to dictate when the Nationals will win or lose.

The Nationals fared well against the left-handed Lee after back to back nights of poor hitting against two other Phillies left-handers. They were able to get nine hits off Lee, giving him only his third loss of the season.

Gio Gonzalez went seven strong innings, only allowing a solo homerun to Darin Ruf in the bottom of the seventh. He gave up one run on six hits, two walks while striking out five. Gio lowered his season ERA to 3.03 with his last start before the All-Star game.

The Phillies seemed to have difficulty with Gonzalez off-speed and breaking ball all night. The biggest change from the first two games of the series was that Ben Revere only managed to get on base one time which was a source of most of their momentum in the earlier games.

Carlos Ruiz was the only Phillies hitter to manage more than one hit on the game and only he and Ruf managed to be on base more than once either.

The Nationals managed an extra run in the top of the ninth on an swinging bunt by Denard Span that brought Rendon in to score from third. Tyler Clippard pitched the eighth and Rafael Soriano closed the game out in a non-save situation in the ninth.

The Nationals are now 47-44 on the year, and 42-10 when they manage to score at least three runs in the game. The Nationals now trail the Atlanta Braves by five games in the National League East.

Robert Peterson lives in the Washington DC Metro area and has been covering the Nationals since the team moved to the area in 2005

Former National John Lannan keeps the Nationals grounded, Phillies win 3-2

WP – J. Lannan (2-3) LP – D. Haren (4-10)

S – J. Papelbon (19)

John Lannan, like most other left-handers this season, baffled the Washington Nationals for eight innings.  He struck out four while scattering four hits and two walks to keep the Nationals scoreless.

Jonathan Papelbon came on for the ninth and ran into the only challenge Nationals hitters posed on the night.  He allowed Bryce Harper to single up the middle and a double to Ryan Zimmerman before Jayson Werth came up just a couple feet short of tying the game with a blast to centerfield.  Both runners tagged, scoring Harper.  Zimmerman scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Laroche to center and with two outs pinch hitter Chad Tracy hit a little fly ball to center to end the game.

The Philadelphia Phillies scored early on Dan Haren, getting two runs in the bottom of the first inning.  Haren again struggled with control, allowing one of the runs to score on a bases loaded walk.  He allowed two or more base runners in three of the five innings he pitched.

The Phillies would add one more run in the bottom of the sixth against Fernando Abad on a single by Jimmy Rollins to center field.  Ben Revere pestered Nationals pitching all night, going 3-for-5, with a stolen base and two runs scored.

The Nationals this season have had consistent problems with left-handed pitchers that throw a variety of off speed stuff.  The biggest problem is that the Nationals hitters seem to fail to adjust in the batter’s box to be able to consistently hit the off speed pitch on the outside half of the plate with any power.  Lannan induced fifteen ground balls from the Nationals tonight keeping them off balance on what pitch was coming all night.

Additional:  The Nationals completed a trade with the Chicago Cubs today for Scott Hairston and a player to be named later for a minor league pitcher and a player to be named later. 

The Nationals fall to 46-43 on the year, and 5-32 in games that they score less than three runs.

Robert Peterson lives in the Washington DC Metro area and has been covering the Nationals since the team moved to the area in 2005

Zimmerman slam leads Nationals over Padres 11-7, Strasburg picks up the win

WP – S. Strasburg (4-6) LP – R. Erlin (1-2)

On a sizzling afternoon, Ryan Zimmerman crushed a bases clearing grand slam to deep right center, scoring Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond and Stephen Strasburg to lead the Washington Nationals to a sweep of the San Diego Padres. Bryce Harper had three hits, three RBIs and two stolen bases on the day.  He had an opportunity to really do some damage in the bottom of the seventh, at bat with the bases loaded and two outs but hit a line drive to the centerfield to end the inning.

Stephen Strasburg picked up the win on a day when he struggled with control in the heat.  He pitched six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out nine.  Strasburg also hit three batters on the day on a day that he would need 110 pitches to get through six innings. Alexi Amarista hit a two run homerun for the most significant hit off of Strasburg.  Strasburg limited most of the Padres other scoring came on little dinks and dunks, moving runners around.

The scoring started early for the Nationals with Bryce Harper singling home Denard Span in the bottom of the first inning.  The big inning though was the bottom of the third, where the Nationals scored six runs on Zimmerman’s grand slam and Anthony Rendon hitting a two run homerun, scoring Jayson Werth.  The Nationals would tack on four more in the bottom of the fifth on RBI singles from Rendon and Strasburg, along with a wild pitch that scored Harper and a groundout that brought Werth in to score.

The Padres would make a push to make the game close by scoring three more runs in the seventh and eighth off Craig Stammen.  This is the third outing in a row that Stammen has had difficulty getting outs.  He allowed two runs in the seventh on twelve pitches, all strikes.  He failed to record an out in the eighth before being lifted for Drew Storen, who quickly put the Padres down in order.  Tyler Clippard pitched the ninth to close out the win.

This is the Nationals first sweep of a series since a two game series against the Detroit Tigers back in the second week of May.  The Nationals now take on the Philadelphia Phillies for a four game series.

The Nationals improve to 46-42, moving four games back of the Atlanta Braves, who lost to the Phillies.   The Nationals are now 41-10 in games where they score at least three runs. Additional, it was announced that Ross Detwiler would be placed on the 15-Day DL.

Robert Peterson lives in the Washington DC Metro area and has been covering the Nationals since the team moved to the area in 2005.