A few bad pitches, a few missed opportunities

The Phillies hit so many balls hard off Edwin Jackson tonight that the Nationals starter initially thought he might have been tipping his pitches.

After going back and watching some film, Jackson shot down that theory. He came away from that mini film session with a new idea of why he surrendered three home runs and gave up eight hits over 5 2/3 innings.

“I just got hurt on balls up in the zone,” Jackson said.

Yeah, that’ll usually do it.

“Got behind in some counts,” Jackson continued. “There was times I made pitches when I needed to. I had some good defensive plays behind me, but three home runs, three solo home runs, I got hurt on two of them just up and one of them, he was just ready for it.”

As Davey Johnson put it, tonight’s 3-2 Nationals loss was kind of a weird game.

It was Nationals-Phillies, yet the paid attendance was just 23,777, the lowest it’s been at Nats Park since May 14. Jackson gave up a lot of well-struck balls but only allowed three runs, while Phillies starter Vance Worley didn’t have his best stuff but the Nats just couldn’t touch him.

“Tonight it seemed like every time I got ahead, I couldn’t put the guy away,” Worley said. “They just got themselves out. They want to get themselves out, that’s fine with me.”

Worley set down 14 of the last 16 Nationals he faced and didn’t allow a run after the first inning. But the Nats agreed with Worley’s assessment that they had their chances, just couldn’t capitalize on balls out over the plate.

“He gave us all pitches to hit,” Adam LaRoche said. “We can all look back for the most part on at-bats where we had good pitches to hit. Whether he was leaving them out over the plate or leaving them up in the zone, give him credit. We didn’t do anything with it and he kept pounding the zone.”

They had a shot to claw back into the game when Ryan Zimmerman reached on a pinch-hit single with one out in the eighth. After Michael Morse flew out, however, Zimmerman was caught stealing with Adam LaRoche at the plate to end the inning and the scoring chance.

“I had a pretty good jump,” Zimmerman said. “He made a perfect throw. If it’s high or off the mark at all, I’m safe, and now we have a guy on second with (LaRoche) facing a lefty instead of a guy on first. It was one of those calculated risks there. If I make it, it helps us. I wasn’t trying to get out, but if we get out, he’s leading off against a righty (closer Jonathan Papelbon) and has a lot better chance to do some damage.”

One inning later, Danny Espinosa came within mere feet of tying the game with a dramatic home run, only to see the ball land in the glove of left fielder Dominic Brown on the warning track.

Since the Nationals’ thrilling 11-10 11-inning win over the Brewers on Sunday, they’ve scored a total of two runs in two games and have dropped both of them.

Coincidence? Maybe not.

“We’ve been a little flat since our Sunday in Milwaukee,” Johnson said. “Guys are a little bit banged up from it. We’ll be all right tomorrow.”

How do the Nats go about getting back on track?

“We don’t change a thing,” LaRoche said. “We keep going out there. I don’t see anybody deflated in here. I look up and we’re still in first place. I think guys realize that. So we keep playing.”

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