It was a series to forget for the Philadelphia Phillies, who not only had their pitching staff ravaged and turned around thanks to a series of rain delays, but also let two ninth inning leads get away as they lost their first series since late July, culminating with an 5-4 extra-inning loss on Sunday afternoon.
Things were messy from the get-go in our Nation's Capitol, as starter Roy Halladay allowed four hits in the first inning that resulted in a pair of runs to put the Phillies behind the eight-ball early on in the contest. The deficit was short-lived, however, as Carlos Ruiz put thePhillies on the board in the top of the second inning with a two-run homer, his fifth of the season, to even things up at two. One inning later, Chase Utley followed with a solo homer – his ninth – to give the Phillies the lead.
Doc took the lead and ran with it, and shut down the Nationals the rest of the way, which wound up being all of five innings, as his day was cut short thanks to a rain delay that crept in during the top of the sixth inning.
When play resumed some two hours later, the Phillies sent rookie pitcher Michael Schwimer to the mound in the bottom of the sixth. Schwimer, a right-hander who spent the better part of the last two seasons dominating Double and Triple-A ball, got his much anticipated debut off on the wrong foot, as the second pitch of his big league career ended up over the center field wall, courtesy of Dany Espinosa, whose fifth bomb of the year evened the score at three.
It would be the only rough spot of the game for Schwimer, who set down the next three hitters in order to end the inning, only to follow that up by striking out the side in the seventh. All told, he went three innings and allowed two hits, one run, while striking out five.
With the game knotted at three in the top of the ninth, the bottom half of the lineup put together a rally that came to a head when Michael Martinez singled up the middle to score Raul Ibanez from second to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead.
With Ryan Madson getting another day off, the Phillies turned to Antonio Bastardo to finish off the Nationals in the bottom of the ninth. After striking out the first two batters he faced, he looked poised to set down Ian Desmond to end it, but Desmond's bat got just enough of Bastardo's inside slider and was able to send it over the left field wall to tie the game at four and to send it to extras.
The Phillies went down in order in the top of the tenth, and the Nationals wasted no time in getting at Brad Lidge, who allowed a leadoff double to Ryan Zimmerman, followed by an intentional walk to Michael Morse and then a single from Jayson Werth to load the bases with no one out. After striking out Dany Espinosa, Lidge hit Jonny Gomes to force in Zimmerman from third to give the game to the Nats.
It was a weekend series that was fraught with all sorts of bad weather and more blown saves than anyone would care to see, but that's just baseball. Sometimes games get away.
There were a pair of bright spots to be had this weekend, including Roy Oswalt's eight shutout inning performance on Saturday night, where he struck out nine in what was a very promising outing for the right-hander, as well as Michael Schwimer's debut. In a series were both losses were the product of blown saves by guys who are usually very reliable, it's always nice to see a young bullpen arm announce his presence with authority.
The Phillies are going to shake off this series loss, which is their first since they lost two of three to the San Francisco Giants in late July, and head back home to face the New York Mets on Monday night, when where Cliff Lee (13-7, 2.82) takes on Jonathon Niese (11-10, 4.05).
Game Note: Jimmy Rollins left the game after the top of the third inning, after apparently injuring himself on a play in the bottom of the second inning. It is reported that he has a strained right groin, and that he will be getting an MRI on Monday.
Fan, follow and download: Get the latest from NBCPhiladelphia.com anytime, anywhere. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and NBC Philadelphia. Sign up for our breaking news newsletter. And, get breaking news delivered right to your mobile phone -- just text PHIBREAKING to 639710 to sign up. (Message and data rates may apply.)