(June 17-19) Washington Falls in Series to Phillies, 2-1

In Game One of the four-game set against the rival Philadelphia Phillies, Nats’ Chad Tracy blasted a ninth inning home run off Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon to tie the score at 4.

Yet Washington’s bullpen couldn’t close out the game and gave the Philadelphia batters a chance to win as Dominic Brown’s single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth sent Phillies fans home happy with a 5-4 victory.

John Lannan, a former mainstay in the Nationals’ rotation, made his first start for the Phillies since April 17 after a nearly two months on the disabled list with a strained tendon in his left knee. He allowed six hits and two runs in five innings, striking out four and walking one in his first start against his former club.

Game Two saw Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee continue his comeback season with eight solid innings as Washington suffered its third consecutive loss, 4-2. Lee struck out nine in eight impressive innings while Nationals’ starter Ross Detwiler took the loss.

Solo home runs for Jayson Werth and Jeff Korbernus were the only scoring plays for the Nats.

In the series finale, Werth continued to show why he possibly may be the only clutch bat Washington can trust as his RBI single with two outs in the ninth tied the game and gave Papalbon his second blown save in three games. Then in the 11th, Ian Desmond crushed a grand slam to put the game out of reach as the Nationals won, 6-2. After giving up two first inning runs, ace pitcher Gio Gonzales was outstanding the rest of the way, going seven innings. Four relievers pitched shutout ball the rest of the way.

(June 20-23) Nats Win Two Straight before Loss to Rockies

Coming off a uncharacteristic poor outing in his last start, Nats starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann pitched eight innings in Game One to win his 10th game, Adam LaRoche had three hits including a two-run triple and the Nationals spoiled Roy Oswalt’s return to the majors with a 5-1 win over Colorado on June 21. Ian Desmond homered for the second straight game and Denard Span and Steve Lombardozzi added a double and a single apiece for Washington, which began a stretch in which it will play 14 of its next 17 games at home. In Game Two, Ian Desmond’s seventh inning home run was just enough to give Stephen Strasburg only his fourth win of the season and give the team its third consecutive victory as the Nats won, 2-1. Reliever Drew Storen worked the eighth inning and Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his 19th save as the Nationals moved one game above .500 at 37-36.

But as soon as the team thinks it turning a corner, here comes Dan Haren on June 22. Before a late-arriving crowd could sit down for the early noon start, the team was down 3-0 with Haren serving up hittable pitches on a proverbial platter. His record is now 4-9 as a starter this season. He allowed six runs and seven hits over four innings while striking out five but allowed his 19th homerun of the season. He had two wild pitches and hit a batter with a pitch while raising his ERA to 6.15.

Player of the Week: Stephen Strasburg –
In two starts, Strasburg pitched 12 innings while surrendering just two earned runs with a 1.50 ERA and one victory.

Washington will host a three-game series at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks, then head on a three-game road trip to New York to face the Mets.


Dion Johnson

Special to the AFRO