PHILADELPHIA - For the second straight night, a Nationals starter got hit around pretty good in the first inning but rebounded to keep his team in the ballgame.
For seemingly the 10th time this month, Steve Lombardozzi delivered a big hit in the fifth, tying this game at 2-2.
The Nats fell in an early hole when Gio Gonzalez allowed four of the first five Phillies hitters to reach in the first inning, plating two runs for the home team. Gonzalez recovered, however, minimizing the damage and allowing just the two runs in the first.
He got into a bit of a jam in the fifth, putting two runners on with one out, only to retire Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to get out of the inning. That's been one of the few hiccups for Gonzalez since the first, and he goes into the sixth having thrown 93 pitches.
Lombardozzi came up with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the fifth and came through with a big single to center, scoring two and tying the game.
Over his last 12 games, Lombardozzi is 19-for-40. Decent, I guess.
The Phillies had a shot to get out of the fifth before Lombardozzi even came to the plate, but instead of trying to turn a 4-6-3 double play on a Gonzalez ground ball, Utley came home to get a force out. A double play would have ended the inning, and with Gonzalez running, there's probably a good chance the Phillies would have been able to get two.
Because they didn't, Lombardozzi got a shot, and he delivered.
Update: John Mayberry has quickly given the Phillies the lead right back, taking a solo shot out to left leading off the sixth to make it a 3-2 game.
It's just the eighth home run allowed by Gonzalez this year, but it puts the Nats in a hole again.
Update II: The Nats have had problems holding runners and throwing out runners all season. Those issues have become more pronounced lately, and they came back to bite them in the eighth inning tonight.
Chase Utley reached to start the eighth after being hit by a Sean Burnett pitch, and he promptly stole both second and third with relative ease. That allowed him to score on Mayberry's sacrifice fly, giving the Phillies a big insurance run and making it a 4-2 game.
The Nats are now three outs from a series loss to the Phils
Update III: The Phillies picked up a 4-2 win, giving the Nats their third straight loss.
This is the first time the Nats have dropped three straight since July 19-21. With the Braves winning earlier today, the Nationals' NL East lead is down to 5 1/2 games.