Nats Bats Can't Dent Phils Myers; Lose 2-1

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, July 30, 2008 | , , , | 0 comments »

Washington--Right now, the Washington Nationals are the perfect team for a struggling pitcher to regain his confidence. Philadelphia's opening day starter Brett Myers has been ineffective most of the year -- including a much-publicized trip to the minor leagues. But on Tuesday night at Nationals Park before 34,039 fans split between the home and visiting teams, Myers (W, 4-9, 5.46) dominated the Nationals allowing one unearned run on just four hits and one walk and the Phillies bullpen held on to secure the 2-1 victory. The Nationals scored that unearned run in the eighth inning after being shut out in their last 25 innings, going back to Friday night's game in Los Angeles.

The Phils could not muster much more than that though against Nationals rookie starter Collin Balestar. Balestar went six full innings allowing just two earned runs --via Chase Utley's 26th home run of the season. He gave up six hits and no walks, striking out five. "One mistake," was all Balestar had to say about his performance. Balestar's record falls to 1-3, 5.13 ERA.

With a line-up that's last in the NL in average, runs, home runs, on base percentage and slugging percentage, however, one mistake is all it takes. Philadelphia did not get a runner past second base in any other inning against the rookie right-hander, but in the end did not need to.

Utley's homer was his first since July 7, snapping a fourteen game drought.

Washington has now lost seven straight games, eight of ten and have scored a total of three runs in their last five games. "The offense -- it's been a struggle the whole season," Washington manager Manny Acta said. The first four hitters in Acta's line-up Tuesday -- Willie Harris, Ronnie Belliard, Ryan Zimmerman, Austin Kearns -- combined to go 0-for-14 with one walk.

Ineffectiveness was again coupled with base running mistakes, as 1B Paul LoDuca and Zimmerman both were thrown out in run-downs on the base paths. "A dumb mistake," Zimmerman acknowledged. "You can't let that kind of stuff happen there. Learn from it and move on."

Garrett Mock, Charlie Manning and Joel Hanrahan all pitched one inning of shutout baseball to finish things up for Balestar. Brad Lidge pitched a perfect ninth inning for the Phils, recording his 25th save.

Wednesday night Tim Redding (7-5, 3.98) takes on Jamie Moyer (9-6, 3.76) in a 7:10 pm showdown at Nationals Park.

NATS NOTES: The loss moves the Nats record to 38-68, 19.5 games behind the division-leading Phillies.

All-star shortstop Cristian Guzman pinch-ran but was still not in the starting line-up, unable to grip the bat with both hands. The precautionary MRI performed Wednesday morning on his left thumb returned negative and confirmed the original diagnosis of a soft-tissue contusion at the base of the thumb. He is considered day-to-day.

Willie Harris drove in the Nats only run, set up by a single from LoDuca, Utley's fielding error and a sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter Ryan Langerhans.