With nobody out in the eighth inning, Jayson Werth stood on third base and Chase Utley led off first. Ryan Howard stepped to the plate and struck out. Then within seconds, Pat Burell erased himself and Utley from the scorecard, ending the inning.
That’s the story of the year, right there, clear as day, and the crucial misfire in a 4-3 loss to the Nationals. It snapped the Nats’ 13-game losing streak, dropped the Phillies into a 2.5-game hole in the NL East and put a really long sigh at the beginning of a really tough stretch.
Earlier in the series we grazed by the offense’s deficiencies because, hey, they were winning. This time you can’t do it. Getting only three runs off Nationals pitching via a Chase Utley single, a Greg Dobbs groundout and a Carlos Ruiz home run, they came up lame late when they really needed it. Howard is the major culprit, going 0-or-4 with three strikeouts. Jimmy Rollins also had a bad game, going 0-for-4. (In the ninth, they had Shane Victorino on second with no outs, and of course, couldn’t score him.)
Ryan Madson blew the save with a four-hit barrage in the eighth, netting two Washington runs. It seems once he pulls together a string of great performances, he falls hard with a bad one. Maybe it was foreseeable, but you can’t blame putting him into the game in the eighth.
On the good news front, Jamie Moyer continued to lower his ERA with a fine performance. He gave up just two earned runs on five hits while walking three. His ERA is now 3.54.
It’s a shame the bullpen couldn’t hold it, but you have to think the Phils can score more runs against the Nationals. Then again, it’s the story of the year – this offense really isn’t that good.
Associated Press photo