Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Edwin Jackson faces Vance Worley tonight at Nationals Park.
On the bright side, Adam LaRoche is returning to the lineup after missing time with his own back issue. The first baseman will bat fifth, with Michael Morse directly in front of him and none other than Chad Tracy batting third and playing third base for the first-place Nats. Yep.
Edwin Jackson gets the start tonight against the Phillies, who send Vance Worley to the mound and will have the newly acquire Nate Schierholtz in right field and the recently promoted Domonic Brown in left field.
Lots of updates to come, so please check back throughout the evening...
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Scattered storms, 83 degrees, Wind 6 mph RF to LF
2B Steve Lombardozzi
RF Bryce Harper
3B Chad Tracy
LF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Danny Espinosa
CF Roger Bernadina
C Jesus Flores
RHP Edwin Jackson
SS Jimmy Rollins
RF Nate Schierholtz
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
CF John Mayberry
LF Domonic Brown
3B Kevin Frandsen
C Erik Kratz
RHP Vance Worley
HP Ted Barrett
1B Marvin Hudson
2B Jordan Baker
3B Tim McClelland (cc)
6:30 p.m. -- Here's your full injury update on Jordan Zimmermann (whose next start has been bumped to Saturday due to shoulder inflammation), Jayson Werth (who is lined up to be activated off the DL Friday) and Ryan Zimmerman (who insists he'll be in tomorrow night's lineup).
7:05 p.m. -- And we're underway as Jimmy Rollins sends Edwin Jackson's first pitch of the night to the warning track in right field. Don't worry, Bryce Harper was there to catch it. The Nats are wearing their blue stars and stripes jerseys tonight. I believe it's some sort of military appreciation night.
7:13 p.m. -- What could have been a shaky top of the first for Jackson turns out just fine. After Rollins gave that first pitch a ride, Jackson got Nate Schierholtz to ground out. Though he issued a two-out walk to Chase Utley, he bounced back to strike out Ryan Howard to complete the inning. So we head to the bottom of the first.
7:25 p.m. -- And the Nats take a quick 2-0 lead, with a couple of major assists from the Phillies' shoddy infield defense. Kevin Frandsen booted Michael Morse's chopper to third and Chase Utley couldn't get a handle on Danny Espinosa's bases-loaded grounder to second. All that led to two unearned runs crossing the plate in the bottom of the first.
7:47 p.m. -- Good news: Bryce Harper's prolonged slump may be coming to an end. He's already got two hits in two at-bats in two innings tonight. Bad news: The second hit (an opposite-field single to left) resulted in Jackson getting gunned down at the plate, with the pitcher sliding hard into Erik Kratz's shin guards. Not a wise send by Bo Jackson. So it remains 2-0 Nats after two.
8:00 p.m. -- Well, that was a very shaky top of the third for Jackson, who gave up hits to four of the first five batters he faced. That included Rollins' solo homer into the second deck down the right-field line. Was Jackson still bothered by that hard slide into the plate to end the previous inning? Who knows? But he did come through with a big strikeout of Howard to end the inning without suffering any more damage, leaving the Nats with a 2-1 lead.
8:26 p.m. -- Things have settled down here, particularly for Worley, who has retired six in a row through the third and fourth innings. Jackson has found himself in trouble all night, but he's escaped without significant damage so far. Have to wonder if he's playing with fire, though. Still 2-1 as we go to the fifth.
8:49 p.m. -- What was I saying about playing with fire? Jackson finally got burned in the fifth, serving up back-to-back homers to Rollins and Schierholtz to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead. A double by Utley and then a walk to Howard later, Jackson still hadn't retired a batter in the inning, yet there still was no activity in the Nationals' bullpen. Yes, Tom Gorzelanny went three innings last night, but Davey Johnson does have eight guys down there at the moment, does he not? Well, props to Jackson for getting out of the mess without suffering any more damage. But at 95 pitches through five innings, having allowed three runs, Davey might just want to be grateful for what he got and hand things over to his pen in the sixth.
8:55 p.m. -- Meanwhile, Worley has retired nine in a row, including three in very quick fashion in the bottom of the fifth. Which means Jackson is already back out on the mound for the sixth after a very short break.
9:09 p.m. -- Jackson got a couple of outs but then walked Rollins (which may not have been such a bad idea tonight) so out came Captain Hook to summon Michael Gonzalez. Gonzalez did his job, striking out Schierholtz. So that ends the top of the sixth with the score still 3-2. Given how many guys he put on base, it's pretty remarkable Jackson wound up only giving up three runs tonight (all on solo homers).
9:22 p.m. -- Most shocking development of the night: The official paid attendance is only 23,777. That's the first crowd under 25,000 here since May 15. And it came against the Phillies. Never would've predicted that.
9:27 p.m. -- Very nice job by Michael Gonzalez, who retired all four batters he faced, three by strikeout. That has kept this a 3-2 game at the seventh-inning stretch, with the crowd here just waiting for the home team to get a rally going. They're running out of time.
9:33 p.m. -- That's 14 of 16 Nats hitters retired by Roy Halladay. What's that? Oh, it's Vance Worley pitching tonight. My mistake. Still 3-2 as we head to the eighth.
9:41 p.m. -- A 1-2-3 eighth from Ryan Mattheus, continuing the positive work from the Nats bullpen. But it'll all amount to nothing if the lineup can't do something against the Phillies pitching staff. On the bright side, Worley is finally out and Antonio Bastardo is in for the bottom of the eighth. Also, Ryan Zimmerman is grabbing a bat and looks like he will pinch-hit for Chad Tracy.
9:57 p.m. -- And Zim delivers a one-out, pinch-hit single up the middle, putting the Nats in prime position to rally for the tying run. But Morse struck out swinging at a 93 mph right down the middle from right-hander Josh Lindblom. Then after the Phillies brought in lefty Jeremy Horst (Jeremy Horst??) to face LaRoche, Zimmerman was gunned down surprisingly trying to steal second base on Horst's very first pitch. Odd. Very odd. It's still 3-2 as we go to the ninth.
10:10 p.m. -- Last shot for the Nats. It'll be LaRoche, Espinosa and Bernadina in the bottom of the ninth against Jonathan Papelbon.
10:21 p.m. -- That'll do it. A very frustrating night ends with a very frustrating 3-2 loss to the Phillies, who came into D.C. waving the white flag but have now assured themselves of a series victory. They'll go for the sweep tomorrow. On the bright side, the Braves lost to the Marlins. So the lead remains at 2 1/2 games.