|Danny Espinosa's two-homer night fueled Nats 10-2 win over Phillies. (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)|
It's nights like last night that make the previous two weeks worth of losses that much tougher to take. It certainly explains manager Jim Riggleman's insistence that the Washington Nationals are a better ball club than they've shown this season.
Behind two home runs by rookie second baseman Danny Espinosa and another quality start by Jason Marquis, the Nats pounded their arch-enemy, the Philadelphia Phillies, 10-2, before 21,017 at sweltering Nats Park.
The win snaps a three-game losing streak and ups the Nats record to 23-31.
|Jason Marquis held the Phillies to two solo home runs, earning his sixth win. (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)|
For the second straight night, the Nationals made one of the better pitchers in the N.L. work hard. But unlike Monday's 5-4 loss when they repeatedly allowed Roy Halladay off the hook, the Nats were relentless in bashing Cliff Lee and a parade of relievers.
Lee (L, 4-5, 3.94) had trouble locating his fastball, and when he brought it over the plate, the Nats made good contact, getting to the lefty for six runs on seven hits, including a pair of no-doubt shots by Espinosa (3-for-4, 4 RBIs). He now has 10 home runs, tied with Los Angeles Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo for the rookie lead in the majors, and his 33 RBIs place him 10th in the N.L. overall.
Espinosa was not the only hitting star though. Michael Morse went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, upping his average to .301 in the process. Jayson Werth also drove in two with a sacrifice fly and a double.
|Michael Morse is congratulated by his skipper after scoing against the Phillies. (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)|
But leading 6-2 in the top of the seventh, Marquis allowed a double to Domonic Brown -- who homered earlier -- and pinch-hitter Ross Gload reached on catcher's interference, giving the Phillies a chance to climb back into the game with the top of their order coming up. Riggleman called upon Tyler Clippard, as he has so many times this season. Clippard got Jimmy Rollins to line out to Werth in right field and Placido Polanco popped out to short to end the threat.
"Those were probably the two biggest outs of the game for us right there," Riggleman said after the game.
One win doesn't change a whole lot over the course of 162 games. But at least for a night, the Nationals -- management, coaches, players and fans -- can relish a victory over their biggest rivals, silencing the legions of Phillies fans that have descended on Nats Park this week. It'll be short-lived, because they go right back at it under the sun on Wednesday, but for a few hours, ain't the beer cold?
THE GOOD: In the top of the eighth, with a man on first and no outs, Ryan Howard hit a ball on the ground to 1B Michael Morse's right that the big guy deftly picked and made a slinging side-armed throw to 3B Jerry Hairston, covering second in the exaggerated shift.
Hairston then leaped over the sliding Chase Utley to relay back to pitcher Cole Kimball covering at first. Just your typical 3-5-1 double play. Here's the replay, it's a thing of beauty.
|Michael Morse starts 3-5-1 double play in the eighth inning. (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)|
THE BAD: Rick Ankiel entered late in the game, but still managed to go 0-for-2, lowering his average to .210.
THE UGLY: Phillies reliever Danys Baez pitched one inning, allowing three earned runs on four hits. Yuck.
THE STATS: 13 hits, five walks, seven strikeouts. 6-for-11 with RISP, six LOB, one GIDP. E: I.Rodriguez (3).
NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 1:05 pm against the Phillies. John Lannan (2-5, 4.40) hosts Roy Oswalt (3-2, 2.60).
HARPER WATCH: Bryce Harper went 2-for-3 with an RBI and three stolen bases in Hagerstown's 3-0 win over Kannapolis. He's hitting .331/.415/.584 with 11 homers, 35 RBIs and 10 stolen bases this season. Robbie Ray earned his second win for the Suns, going five innings and allowing just one hit (four walks), striking out three. He's 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA in five starts.