By Michael Marzzacco
On a frustrating night at Nationals Park, the Nats bats struggled to get some runs across the board in a 4-1 loss to the Phillies. The Nats were in the game much of the night but one bad inning by A.J. Cole in the third inning proved to be the difference in an otherwise decent outing on the mound for the young right-hander.
That bad inning occurred in the third where the Phillies pushed four runs across the plate. Peter Bourjos led off with a home run. Cole got the next batter to ground out. Cesar Hernandez followed with a single. Cole answered when he got Odubel Herrera to strike out looking. With two outs and one on he hit Andres Blanco with a pitch and then Ryan Howard made him pay with a three run shot.
The Nats’ bats had some opportunities to score but couldn’t capitalize. Bryce Harper almost got a big base that could have bounced near the top of the wall, maybe a couple inches shy of a homer, in the fourth inning but a leaping catch by left fielder Aaron Altherr sent him back to the dugout.
The best opportunity for Washington came in the eighth inning. The Nats loaded the bases and MVP candidate Daniel Murphy came up to the plate. He smacked it to deep left field but it wasn’t enough for the game-tying grand slam. Altherr caught it at the warning track and it was only good enough for a sacrifice fly. That would be their only run of the night. Harper struck out to end the inning, surprisingly just their first strikeout on a quiet offensive night.
“We hit some balls awfully hard. It was at-em balls. Tonight, I guess the ball wasn’t bouncing our way,” said Nats Skipper Dusty Baker.
Cole got the loss and despite the bad inning managed to strike out eight. The win by Philadelphia snapped a nine game losing streak they had against Washington. The series continues tonight at 7:05. Jake Thompson (1-5, 6.48 ERA) will go up against Tanner Roark (14-8, 2.89 ERA).