The Phillies’ bullpen blew a 3-2 lead in the eighth, and the offense was unable to mount a comeback as they dropped the opener of a three-game set with the Nationals by a final of 5-3. It was yet another example of the biggest weakness that has plagued the team in the early part of the season.
‘Pen Can’t Hold Lead
It took just two batters after Lee departed for the Nationals to tie the game at three. Mike Adams allowed a leadoff double to Denard Span in the eighth, and Span promptly stole third before bring driven in by Anthony Rendon. Adams then yielded a single to Jayson Werth and was lifted in favor of Jake Diekman. Diekman was no better, giving up two straight hits as the Nationals took a 5-3 lead before Diekman struck out the side .
Byrd Bringing the Power
Marlon Byrd took Stephen Strasburg deep to right field for a three-run bomb in the first inning, giving the Phillies an early 3-0 lead. With those three RBI, Byrd now has 20 0n the season. That not only leads the team, but also puts Byrd in a two-way tie for sixth place in the National League in runs batted in. His average now sits at .286, which is good for fourth best on the team.
Lee Goes Seven Strong
Cliff Lee rebounded nicely from his less-than-stellar start last week against Arizona, allowing just two runs through seven solid innings while striking out five. He threw 106 pitches, 70 of which were strikes. Only one of the Nationals’ runs against Lee was earned- a solo home run off the bat of Tyler Moore in the third inning. It is the fourth time in seven starts this season that Lee has gone seven or more innings and allowed one earned run or fewer.
The unearned run was scored on an RBI groundout from Span in the fifth, after a Chase Utley error allowed Jose Lobaton to reach base. But the run was overshadowed by an emptying (albeit a casual emptying) of the benches and bullpens. During Span’s at bat, he motioned for time to the umpire, but it was not granted. Span still stepped out of the box as Lee’s pitch came buzzing in high and tight. Span took exception and had some words for Lee, which Lee gave right back and continued to dish out as Span walked back to the dugout. Span then turned around and walked towards Lee, at which point the benches and bullpens slowly emptied onto the field, with Lee laughing the whole time.