Nats Bullpen Fails Again in 5-3 Loss to Phillies
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WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals’ hitters are keeping manager Davey Johnson from shaving.
His relief pitchers are preventing him from sleeping.
Drew Storen gave up two go-ahead runs in the eighth inning Saturday night as the Nationals fell 5-3 to the Philadelphia Phillies, the latest failure for a Nationals bullpen that Johnson said “keeps me up more than the offense” — a strong statement considering that the manager has vowed to stop shaving until his lineup breaks out of its collective hitting slump.
“He made some good pitches, but, you know, I’ve got to have him. He’s important to the bullpen,” Johnson said.
Storen (0-1) walked Michael Young, who scored the go-ahead run from first on Delmon Young’s single to the right field corner, stretching his hand across the plate to beat Bryce Harper’s throw to break a 3-all tie. Pinch-runner Michael Martinez then scored on a double by Domonic Brown, who earlier hit his ninth home run.
“It’s just location. It’s always location,” Johnson said. “You get by on stuff just a little while. You have to make good pitches. Walking a guy is the death. That’s been a little bit of his problem.”
Storen has allowed four earned runs in his last five appearances. His ERA rose to 5.21.
“I just left a couple of balls up in the zone and they found holes,” he said. “Didn’t make the pitches.”
Philadelphia’s win evened the three-game series and gives the Phillies another chance to reach .500 in Sunday’s finale — when they can also catch the Nationals for second place in the NL East.
Chad Durbin (1-0) got two outs for the win, but was removed with one out in the eighth after allowing a bunt single and a walk. Jeremy Horst pitched out of the jam and Jonathan Papelbon worked the ninth for his ninth save.
Denard Span had three hits, including an RBI single, while Adam LaRoche had an RBI single and an opposite-field homer for the Nationals, but it was hardly the offensive outburst Johnson has been seeking during his razor boycott. The 70-year-old manager decided to keep letting his facial hair grow despite a modest five-run output in Friday night’s win.
“We had some opportunities to score, pushed a couple of runs in, but they seemed to get some big two-out runs — I don’t know if all of them were two outs, it felt like it — and we didn’t,” LaRoche said.
The Nationals collected 11 hits against five Philadelphia pitchers, but went 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on.
“It’s baby steps,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “We haven’t been swinging the bats really at all. To put up 11 hits is good. Now the next thing we tackle is hitting with runners in scoring position.”
Starters Dan Haren and Jonathan Pettibone both went six innings. Haren had quite the eclectic line: six innings, three runs, 10 strikeouts, one walk and four hits — all for extra bases. Brown and Erik Kratz hit homers on back-to-back pitches in the second inning, and Pettibone and Jimmy Rollins pounded back-to-back doubles to produce a run in the fifth.
“Stuff-wise today was about as good as I’ve had all year,” Haren said. “I just made a couple mistakes, but if I’m throwing like I am tonight we’ll be good.”
Pettibone, a rookie yet to lose a decision over seven starts, matched his career high with six strikeouts while scattering nine hits and three runs. He allowed single runs in the third, fourth and fifth.
NOTES: The play of the day was made accidentally by Nationals 2B Steve Lombardozzi. While trying to field a drag bunt by Freddy Galvis, Lombardozzi had the ball carom off his glove and his knee — and straight to 1B LaRoche for the out. … Nationals OF Tyler Moore singled for the second straight game, raising his average to a still-dubious .139. His struggles earned a special mention when Johnson was talking about facial hair. “I told Tyler the reason I was growing this was for him, to change his luck,” the manager said. … The Nationals called up utility man Jeff Kobernus from Triple-A Syracuse and designated RHP Yunesky Maya for assignment. It was Kobernus’ first day with the major league club, and his pregame duties included signing his name on a big white piece of paper so it could be scanned and put on the scoreboard if he made an appearance at the plate. Also, his parents flew in from California for the game, and they got to see him enter as a pinch runner in the eighth.
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