Hamels Shuts Down Nats 1-0

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, May 21, 2008 | , , , | 1 comments »

Washington, DC--Despite seven innings of shut out baseball by starter Jason Bergmann, the Washington Nationals fell to the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 Tuesday evening before 28,108 decidedly split fans at Nationals Park.

Bergmann made his second consecutive excellent start since returning from Triple-A Columbus. He went seven innings and allowed no runs, five hits and three walks and struck out five Phillies. His opponent, Cole Hamels, was just as effective pitching seven innings himself. He gave up four hits and two walks and struck out a season-high eleven. Neither pitcher figured in the decision, but both provided efforts worthy of a win.

But for all the starting pitching, the story of this game ended up to be a soft, sinking line drive off the bat of Phillies pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs in the top of the ninth inning which drove in pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett with the only run that would cross home plate on this cool but comfortable May evening. Nats closer Jon Rauch (L, 2-1, 2.78) was summoned to pitch the ninth, despite the game being tied. Usually, the tall righty enters only to protect a ninth inning lead, something he's accomplished safely ten times this season. Tonight he would not be as successful.

Phillies third baseman Pedro Feliz led off the ninth with a hard hit double to left field. Bruntlett ran for Feliz, and advance to third on catcher Carlos Ruiz' sacrifice to Rauch. Dobbs then stepped in, and with a 2-0 count he lifted a soft liner that fell just in front of center fielder Lastings Milledge, who tried to deke Bruntlett into thinking he was going to make the play. Milledge could not, and Bruntlett strolled across the plate safely to take the first, and only, lead of the night.

Things might have been worse. With two outs, Shane Victorino sent a liner into left center that Milledge ran a long way and slid to cut off from going to the wall. He bobbled the pick-up slightly, and bounced his relay into shortstop Cristian Guzman, who filed a laser to catcher Jesus Flores. Flores blocked the plate masterfully since Dobbs beat the throw to home, and Dobbs was called out for the third out.

Unfortunately for the Nats, there would be drama but no pay off in the bottom of the frame.

Flores and Wily Mo Pena both struck out against Phils' closer Brad Lidge to start things off. Elijah Dukes then coaxed a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Rob Mackowiak pinch hit for Rauch and with the count 2-2, Dukes stole second without a throw. After two foul ball and another ball, Dukes stole third -- again without a throw. With Dukes at third, Mackowiak also drew a 3-2 walk.

Manager Manny Acta sent Willie Harris in to pinch run for Mackowiak, and the faithful believed that the Nats could make some late inning magic. But on the very first pitch he saw from Lidge, Felipe Lopez grounded to second baseman Chase Utley, who momentarily bobbled the lazy grounder. Lopez, however, inexplicably did not run hard on the play and Utley recovered and easily threw to first to put out the jogging Lopez. Lidge earned his eleventh save, and has allowed only one earned run in 20 innings pitched this season.

Veteran reliever Tom Gordon (4-2, 4.26) pitched a scoreless eighth inning for the Phillies to earn the win.

Nats SS Cristian Guzman slides safely on a steal of second base against the Phillies.

Wednesday's match-up features Nats' lefty Matt Chico (0-5, 6.07) against the Phillies crafty veteran left-hander Jamie Moyer (3-3, 4.89). Game time is 7:10 pm from Nationals Park.

NATS NOTES: The loss sends the Nats overall record to (20-27), six and one-half games behind division-leading Florida. The Phillies (25-22) are one and one-half out.

Austin Kearns missed his third straight game with soreness in his right elbow. An MRI on Tuesday showed no significant damage though, and the team expects him to miss a couple more games to allow inflammation to settle before he plays again.

It was Kearns' 28th birthday, and a group of fans in the right field corner--which Kearns usually patrols--wore straw cowboy hats and made signs in his honor. He was even seen wearing one of the cowboys hats in the dugout pre-game.

Catcher Johnny Estrada, on the 15-day DL with soreness in his elbow, was examined by Dr. James Andrews who performed surgery on his elbow during the off-season. Dr. Andrews said that the soreness is not coming from the surgically repaired area and the discomfort is being triggered by irritation of the ulnar nerve, something he expects will recede with time and rehab.

Hamels Shuts Down Nats 1-0 also posted at DC Sports Box

Photos of Bergmann, Guzman courtesy of A. Amobi, DC Sports Box.
Photo of fans in cowboy hats (c) C. Nichols 2008.

1 comments

  1. MissChatter // May 21, 2008 at 11:18 AM  

    Hey, I recognize some of those fans!