Nationals Fall 10-4 to Phillies as Bullpen Struggles
WASHINGTON — The usually reliable Washington Nationals bullpen is suddenly in a funk.
After starter Gio Gonzalez (6-7) allowed five runs in 3 2-3 innings, five relievers combined to allow five more runs in the Nationals’ 10-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night.
“I don’t think their innings are excessive or anything like that,” manager Matt Williams said of his relievers. “It’s just one of those ruts. So you can get out of those ruts quickly too.”
The Nationals entered Thursday ranked fifth in the majors with a 2.95 bullpen ERA and in the bottom third with 314 2-3 innings.
But that unit has given up 14 earned runs in 10 innings over four games, of which Washington has lost three, including two of three at Miami.
“Everybody (came) to Miami and threw every pitch good, but they hit it well,” catcher Wilson Ramos said. “That happens in baseball.”
On Thursday, a better bullpen effort might have given the Nationals a chance after Phillies starter Cliff Lee left in the third inning with a recurrence of an elbow injury.
But Ben Revere tied a career-high with four hits and Grady Sizemore had three hits and three RBIs as the Phillies pounded out 17 hits — nine off relievers.
Antonio Bastardo (5-4) retired one batter after Lee’s exit to get the win.
Denard Span had two hits and two RBIs for the Nationals, who got the tying run to the plate in the seventh with the score 7-4.
However, Anthony Rendon lined out to right and Jayson Werth struck out on Ken Giles’ 3-2 high fastball that hit 100 mph on the stadium radar gun, stranding runners on the corners.
Gonzalez (6-7) failed to make it through four innings for the second time in three starts. He allowed five runs and eight hits over 3 2-3 innings.
“I got the pitch I wanted, I got the result I wanted,” Gonzalez said. “But they just found their way through. Base hits. The fourth inning just got me.”
With Ryan Zimmerman sidelined, the NL East-leading Nationals bolstered their infield Thursday, acquiring two-time All-Star Asdrubal Cabrera and cash from the Cleveland Indians for shortstop Zach Walters.
Cabrera will play second base with Rendon shifted to third in Zimmerman’s absence.
Nationals: Williams said there’s still no timetable for the return of Zimmerman, out since July 23 with a strained right hamstring.
“He’s going to do nothing for two weeks,” Williams said. “We’ll make an evaluation after that.”
Nationals: Doug Fister (10-2, 2.69) will be looking to win his sixth straight decision when he faces Philadelphia on Friday. He’s 5-0 in his last six starts, with a 2.21 ERA.
Phillies: Roberto Hernandez (5-8, 4.14) looks to continue his recent success. Over his last three starts, he’s 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA.
Nationals: For Cabrera, the Nationals parted with Walters, 24, who hit .234 with three homers runs and six RBIs in 40 games over the last two seasons.
“By shock, as anybody else would,” Williams said about how Walters’s reacted to the news. “He got called into the office, he thought he was in trouble for something, and I said ‘No, we’ve made this trade.'”
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