Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Can the Nationals stop their string of one-run losses tonight?
Lee last faced the Nationals on April 14, and the result wasn't pretty: He tossed a three-hit shutout, striking out 12 in the process. Five members of the Nats' lineup from that game are in the lineup tonight: Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Jerry Hairston, Jayson Werth and Michael Morse. The new additions tonight: Ivan Rodriguez, Roger Bernadina and Brian Bixler (who has become the de facto left fielder against lefties).
Jason Marquis, who got rocked by the Phillies at Citzens Bank Park earlier this month, starts for the Nationals. The right-hander is seeking his first win in three outings.
Updates to come...
PHILLIES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Clear, 90 degrees, Wind 5 mph in from RF
STARTING LINEUPS6:57 p.m. -- Before we get started, couple of items: The May 17 rainout against the Pirates has been officially rescheduled as a traditional doubleheader on July 2, beginning at 3:35 p.m. ... Also, here's a pregame story I filed on Sean Burnett's surprising struggles this season.
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
1B Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
C Ivan Rodriguez
3B Jerry Hairston
LF Brian Bixler
P Jason Marquis
SS Jimmy Rollins
3B Placido Polanco
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
LF Raul Ibanez
C Carlos Ruiz
RF Domonic Brown
CF John Mayberry Jr.
P Cliff Lee
7:07 p.m. -- And we're underway. It's actually not as sweltering as I thought it might be, still 90 degrees at first pitch, though.
7:18 p.m. -- Pretty clean first innings for both starters. Jason Marquis allowed a one-out single to Placido Polanco (who along with Raul Ibanez just seems to destroy Nats pitching) but otherwise was unscathed and needed only 10 pitches to get through the inning. Cliff Lee, meanwhile, needed 11 pitches to retire the side in the bottom of the first, striking out Jayson Werth.
7:37 p.m. -- Ivan Rodriguez's march toward baseball immortality continues. After grounding into a routine 4-6-3 double play to kill a second-inning rally, he's now 14 GIDPs shy of Cal Ripken's all-time record of 350.
7:38 p.m. -- Meanwhile, a Ryan Zimmerman rehab update: He's scheduled to play in his first extended spring training game tomorrow in Viera.
7:55 p.m. -- So, yeah, um, how many of you out there predicted the Nats would score five runs off Cliff Lee in the third inning tonight? Liars! What an unexpected explosion there. Props to Ian Desmond for drawing a big walk to load the bases for Jayson Werth, who lofted a sac fly to right for the first run. Michael Morse added the next with a broken-bat single to left. Danny Espinosa then provided the big blow: a three-run homer into the left-field bullpen on the first pitch he saw from Lee. That's Espinosa's ninth homer, which now leads the team and easily leads all National League rookies. Wow, Nats lead 5-0 after three.
8:05 p.m. -- This being Game No. 54, the Nats have reached the one-third point of the season. Which means Espinosa is on pace to finish his rookie season with 27 homers and 96 RBI. As a second baseman. Wow.
8:20 p.m. -- The Phillies are on the board in the top of the third. Domonic Brown crushes a 3-2 fastball up in the zone from Marquis over the right-field scoreboard. Nats now lead 5-1.
8:23 p.m. -- Make it 5-2 after John Mayberry Jr. follows Brown with his own solo homer. Just like yesterday, the Phillies go back-to-back against the Nats.
8:45 p.m. -- Credit to Marquis, who has seen a few games lately get away from him in the middle innings. But he bounced back from that shaky fifth inning to retire the side in the sixth, striking out both Ibanez and Ruiz. He's at 86 pitches through six innings, the Nats still leading 5-2.
8:49 p.m. -- Holy cow, Espinosa did it again. Rocked a solo homer to left off Lee to lead off the bottom of the sixth. That's his 10th of the year and gives him 33 RBI. Which means he's now on pace for 30 homers and 99 RBI this season. If you're wondering (and I know you are), only seven players in MLB history have hit 30 homers as a rookie. Three of them are Frank Robinson, Ted Williams and Albert Pujols. (One of them is Pete Incaviglia, which we'll just ignore for now.)
8:53 p.m. -- And Cliff Lee is DONE after 5 1/3 innings, six runs and seven hits allowed. Wow.
9:14 p.m. -- Nice job by Tyler Clippard to get the Nats out of a jam in the seventh. Marquis was pulled after Ross Gload reached on catcher's interference, putting runners on the corners with one out. Clippard entered and got Rollins to line out to right and Polanco to pop out to short. Nats maintain a 6-2 lead at the stretch.
9:27 p.m. -- Too many times this season (and in seasons past) the Nationals have enjoyed an early offensive outburst, only to go silent the rest of the night. Not tonight. They have never taken their feet off the gas pedal. Three more runs in the bottom of the seventh, thanks to a Morse double and RBI singles from Pudge and Hairston. It's now 9-2 and that sound you hear is a lot of Phillies fans heading for the exits.
9:40 p.m. -- So who would have guessed Cole Kimball, with only eight career relief appearances, would already have two plate appearances? And he just drew a walk off Mike Zagurski -- he's got a .500 OBP!
9:47 p.m. -- On a night in which the Nationals have scored 10 runs behind a lineup that included Brian Bixler, Jerry Hairston and Ivan Rodriguez ... Jayson Werth becomes the last member of the starting nine to record a hit. RBI double in the eighth makes it 10-2 as we go to the ninth.
9:56 p.m. -- That'll do it. The Nationals finish off a much-needed, much-enjoyed, 10-2 thumping of the Phillies. Marquis (6-2) gets the win. Lee (4-5) takes the loss. Espinosa is the hero, with two homers, a single and four RBI. Series finale tomorrow afternoon, with John Lannan trying to beat Philadelphia for the first time in his career and give the Nats a huge series victory.