Leading the NL East by 3 games, the Phillies started a very important home stand tonight. And while the Nationals are in last place, it seems that the Phillies, like the Braves last week, always struggle against this team. That was not the case tonight.
Roy Oswalt had a shaky start, allowing a run in the first inning. But after that, he got out his fly swatter and smacked the happy right out of the Nats. Over the next 5 innings, Oswalt did not allow another run. He struck out 7 and walked only one batter over 6 total innings.
Oswalt was even a threat with the bat tonight. In the bottom of the 1st, the Phillies went on a swatting spree, knocking Nats pitcher Jason Marquis all over the yard. Of 6 singles in the inning, one of them was from Oswalt who also collected his first RBI of the year on that hit. Later, Oswalt reached base again on a Nats error.
After 2 runs had scored in the first with one out, Wilson Valdez tried his best to hit into his 20th double play of the year. But his attempt was thwarted by the 2nd base umpire who got nicked with the ball, which then ricocheted away from the Nats fielder. One run scored before it was called a dead ball and the Phillies went on to score 6 runs in the inning. Who says umpires cannot be helpful?
Every starter in the game got a hit, except poor Chase Utley who had a hit stolen when first baseman Adam Dunn did a belly flop on a ball smacked up the 1st base line. It wasn’t pretty, but it was an out. It was also one of the few bright spots for the Nats who must have had sore backsides after getting swatted all night.
Although Valdez, with his stellar defense, prefers the head shot for a quick kill:
Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez led the offense with 2 hits and 2 RBI each; one of Werth’s hits was a solo homer. Carlos Ruiz also had 2 RBI on a home run in the 8th that extended the Phillies lead to 9-1. The bullpen held down the lead so the Phillies will remain 3 games in front of the Braves.
Tomorrow night at 7:05pm, the Phillies will try to repeat tonight’s performance with Kyle Kendrick on the mound.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Against the Nationals tonight, the Phillies would face a pitcher who has not been great. Jason Marquis pitched in 5 games this year before tonight, lost all five games and gave up no less than 5 runs in each of those games. Two of those 5 games were against the Phillies. Marquis’ ERA was 14.33 going into this game.
Although the Phillies clearly had this guy’s number early in the year, tonight was another story. The offense managed only 1 run and 4 hits off Marquis in 5 innings. Raul Ibanez collected the lone run with an RBI-double in the 3rd inning to score Chase Utley. As a team, the Phillies left 7 men on base and went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position against Marquis.
When the Nats bullpen took over, the Phillies did not fare any better. Joel Peralta pitched two innings without allowing a base runner. The good news was that Roy Halladay was pitching for the Phils. Halladay got off to a tense start as he and the home plate umpire were not seeing eye to eye. Despite walking a season high 3 batters, Halladay plowed through 7 innings of no-run ball.
Ryan Madson pitched the 8th inning and gave up a lead-off single. But after some sharp defense behind him and a couple ground outs, Madson got through the 8th safely. In 22 games since coming off the DL in July, Madson has allowed just 4 runs total.
Brad Lidge has also managed a massive turn-around in his past 7 games since blowing a save in Washington DC on July 31st. He collected his last 6 save in 6 opportunities and has not allowed a run since then. When Lidge came into the 9th tonight with no margin for error in a 1-0 game, fans had reason to be optimistic. And Lidge did not disappoint; his 7th save in a row gave Halladay his 16th win of the year.
Game 2 of this series is tomorrow at 7:05pm and the Phillies will face the Nats big gun, Stephen Strasburg, for the first time. Kyle Kendrick pitches for the Phillies.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography