PHILADELPHIA - Adam LaRoche thought his fly ball was out.
Jayson Werth did, too.
Heck, much of the stadium probably thought that LaRoche’s deep fly to right had bounced off a seat or something before caroming back into the playing field. Turns out, it hadn’t. The ball had bounced off the very top of a metal railing atop the scoreboard, a railing which is in play.
LaRoche calmly circled the bases, as did Werth, who had only made it to third base on the play after starting the at-bat on second.
First base umpire Gerry Davis signaled that the ball was still live, so the Phillies got it into the infield, caught the unsuspecting LaRoche in a rundown and tagged him out.
After a review, the on-field ruling was upheld, meaning the Nationals had missed a golden opportunity to get within striking distance. If LaRoche had stopped at second, the Nats would have had two runners in scoring position with none out; instead they had just a runner at third and one out.
By the time the half-inning ended, the 4-0 Phillies lead had been cut to 4-1, but the baserunning gaffe cost the Nats at least one additional run.
Both LaRoche and Werth are to blame there.
First of all, neither should have assumed the ball was out. As the old adage goes: Run until they tell you to stop. But on top of that, Werth should have easily been able to advance further than 90 feet on the play, while LaRoche should have stopped safely on second if he was unsure of whether the ball had really left the yard.
The Nationals trail 4-1 entering the eighth, but this game could easily be closer.
Update: The Phillies finished things off in the finale, winning 4-1 and picking up a three-game sweep over the Nationals.
The Nats have now dropped four games in a row for the first time since June 15-19.
Over this four-game span, the Nats have scored a combined six runs. Their lead in the NL East is down to five games with the Braves set to play tonight.