Joe Blanton and the Phillies looked to carry their momentum from the Braves series as they stopped over in Washington D.C. for a three-game set against the Nationals before heading back to Philadelphia.
But Jayson Werth had other plans for his former team.
Ryan Howard gave the Phils an early 1-0 lead thanks to an opposite field homer in the second inning.
Blanton started strong, working quickly to allow only singles to two of the first eleven batters he faced. At the end of the third, the Phillies and their new division rivals were all tied up at one run each.
Big Joe fell into trouble in the fourth when Werth hit a double off the second pitch of his at bat. Blanton gave up four hits and walked one batter on 23 pitches, allowing three runs in the inning. He made a couple of good pitches, but for the most part he wasn’t locating the ball at all where Carlos Ruiz was calling for them. He was mixing up his pitches, depending primarily on his slider and sinker, but it was just what the Nats were looking for as they took a 4-1 lead.
Blanton would go for six innings, giving up five runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out four.
It wasn’t until the top of the seventh inning that the Phils looked like they were rallying for a comeback. Raul Ibanez, Carlos Ruiz and Wilson Valdez singled their way past Livan Hernandez and loaded the bases with one out for John Mayberry, Jr.
Where had I seen that before?
Hernandez knew just how to handle Mayberry, who has had trouble with off-speed pitches for the majority of his career, and struck him out swinging at a low and away 61 mph curveball. Shane Victorino would strike out to end the inning, leaving the bases loaded.
It was only the second time Victorino had not reached base in a game since the season began.
The Phightins tacked on two more runs in the eighth and ninth innings, but the Nats kept pouring it on in return.
Werth would go 2-for-3 with an RBI on a solo home run and a walk (and a chorus of “boos” for every fly ball he put his glove on). Fellow former Phil Matt Stairs, who was batting cleanup (yes, really), went 0-for-3 but had an impressive defensive backhanded stab at a line drive off the bat of Jimmy Rollins early in the game.
Despite their inability to defeat the Nationals, Raul Ibanez remains the only Phillie in the starting lineup with a sub-.300 batting average (.256).
Roy Halladay has only allowed one run in 23 innings against the Nationals last season. He takes the mound for the Phillies Wednesday evening.