Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Gio Gonzalez faces Roy Halladay tonight at Citizens Bank Park.
The Nationals will try to get back on track tonight with Gio Gonzalez on the mound, seeking his league-leading 17th victory. He'll be opposed by Roy Halladay, who has owned the Nats franchise over his career (11-2, 2.55 ERA in 17 career meetings) but lost their only encounter this season when he was tagged for five runs on nine hits.
No lineup posted yet for the Nationals, but they're not expected to have either Michael Morse (bruised hand) or Ian Desmond (mild hamstring strain) in there tonight. We should have an update on both players' status later this afternoon.
Updates to come...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 89
Weather: Chance of showers, 76 degrees, Wind 10 mph RF to LF
2B Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
LF Roger Bernadina
SS Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
LHP Gio Gonzalez
SS Jimmy Rollins
3B Kevin Frandsen
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
CF John Mayberry Jr.
C Erik Kratz
LF Juan Pierre
RF Michael Martinez
RHP Roy Halladay
HP Manny Gonzalez
1B Lance Barksdale
2B Gerry Davis (cc)
3B Phil Cuzzi
7:07 p.m. -- And we're underway with a ball from Roy Halladay to Steve Lombardozzi. It sprinkled a bit earlier, but appears to be dry for now.
7:30 p.m. -- That was a ragged first inning for Gio Gonzalez. It took him 31 pitches to get through the frame, with two runs scoring in the process. He was perhaps the victim of a little bit of bad luck in the form of RBI groundball singles by Chase Utley and John Mayberry. But he also walked Jimmy Rollins on five pitches to start the thing off and fell behind several hitters. Not what the Nats were looking for there. They trail 2-0 after one.
7:40 p.m. -- This just in: Roy Halladay is still a good pitcher. He's made the Nats look silly through two innings, especially during the top of the second when he struck out Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth and Danny Espinosa, all swinging on an assortment of pitches with tons of movement.
7:47 p.m. -- Gio would like to thank Kevin Frandsen for swinging at that fastball (which was only about 27 feet out of the strike zone) to end the second inning with a runner stranded in scoring position. Still 2-0 Phillies.
8:00 p.m. -- Nice job by Gio to get his outing back on track after the shaky first inning. He just retired the heart of the order in the third, not letting the ball out of the infield. He's at 61 pitches (40 strikes), much more efficient the last two innings than he was in the first. Still 2-0 as we head to the fourth.
8:08 p.m. -- The good news: Harper broke up Halladay's no-hit bid with a leadoff single in the top of the fourth. The bad news: He was immediately erased via a 9-3 double play, having taken off for second base on the pitch just as Zimmerman lined out to right. The Nats haven't really been helping themselves on the bases the last two nights, have they?
8:31 p.m. -- Just when it looked like the Nationals were going to squander a bases-loaded opportunity in the top of the fifth, Lombardozzi delivered a big-time, two-out, two-run single up the middle. Even more impressive was Suzuki somehow managing to slip his left hand onto the plate around catcher Erik Kratz's gear. It was a dangerous move but it worked and Suzuki doesn't appear to be seriously hurt, though he was holding that hand a bit gingerly as he trotted back to the dugout. It's now 2-2 in the middle of the fifth.
8:45 p.m. -- Props to Gio for turning his night around. After that shaky first inning, he's settled in nicely, is finding the strike zone with more regularity and is now through five innings having allowed only those two early runs. He's at 93 pitches, which probably means he's only got one more in him. But he's probably given the Nats more than they thought he would have after that first inning.
8:57 p.m. -- And, of course, Gio starts off the sixth by leaving a 91-mph fastball up and out over the plate to Mayberry, who sent it flying into the left-field bleachers to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead. All of a sudden, the Nats have to rally against Halladay (or the Philly bullpen) as we move to the seventh.
9:08 p.m. -- How close did the Nats just come to tying this game? About 3 inches. Lombardozzi's line drive landed that far from the right-field line, just missing a double that would have scored Bernadina from third. Instead, Halladay got Lombo to pop up to end the inning, so it remains 3-2 Phillies at the stretch.
9:14 p.m. -- On the bright side, the Nats have gotten Halladay out of the game. He only threw 86 of 105 pitches for strikes. Seriously, 86 of 105! Antonio Bastardo in for the top of the eighth, with Harper leading off.
9:27 p.m. -- And not one of the three batters the Nats sent to the plate in the eighth made contact off Bastardo. Harper struck out swinging at a 90 mph heater at the letters. Zimmerman struck out swinging at a 93 mph fastball on the outside corner. And LaRoche, after battling his way to a 3-2 count, struck out swinging at an offspeed pitch. Frustrating inning there. We go to the bottom of the eighth, the Nats still down 3-2.
9:39 p.m. -- The Nats' problem with opposing baserunners really cost them in the bottom of the eighth. After Sean Burnett plunked Chase Utley to open the inning, Utley stole second and third bases with relative ease. That allowed him to score on Mayberry's sac fly and give the Phillies a huge insurance run. It's now 4-2 as the Nats' biggest Achilles' heel comes back to haunt them.
9:47 p.m. -- It's over. Jonathan Papelbon shuts the door on the Nats in the ninth and leads the Phillies to their second straight 4-2 victory. Losers of three in a row, the Nats also have seen their lead over the Braves trimmed to 5 1/2 games.