PHILADELPHIA - Both Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche took full responsibility for their share of the baserunning error in the seventh inning of today's 4-1 loss to the Phillies, an error which turned a promising Nationals rally into just a one-run inning.
The veterans both thought LaRoche's fly ball to right had left the yard and let up on the gas, Werth casually jogging into third base and LaRoche making a turn around second and heading for third. The logjam that resulted allowed the Phillies to tag out LaRoche and leave Werth stuck on third when he easily could have been across home plate if his read on the play had been better.
"I obviously thought it was a homer," Werth said. "I was tagging on the play with nobody out, so I was kind of focused on (right fielder Laynce) Nix's glove. It occurred to me that if he caught it, I might be able to score. That's probably the last thought that went through my head. I guess I saw, what I thought I saw, was the ball hitting the walkway above the fence. So I had no indication it wasn't a homer until I was halfway home and for some reason Bo (Porter, third base coach) was screaming about something, and I look up and the ball's on the way home.
"I obviously messed up the play, cost Rochie an easy RBI and potentially cost us a win."
As for LaRoche, he put full blame on himself, as well.
"I screwed up," LaRoche said. "I should've stopped at second there. Got a little confused coming around second. Looked up and saw Jayson breaking for home and then was going to try to get into third and he came back. Just a cluster."
Players aren't briefed on the ground rules of various ballparks at the beginning of a series like managers are, largely because they don't need to know that information. The rule of thumb is to run until they tell you to stop running and let the umpires handle the umpiring.
Werth patrolled right field in Citizens Bank Park for years, so he's well-versed in how balls play coming off that wall. He just merely misread the ball, as did LaRoche and Porter.
"I've seen balls hit the top of the railing and go over," Werth said. "But I saw the ball hit in the walkway and skip up. I didn't even think that the ball might skip back into play. But from what I thought I saw, it wouldn't have mattered either way. I saw the ball go over the fence, which is obviously not what happened."
The Nats dropped three straight to a team that's now 16 1/2 games behind them in the division, but in many ways, that number is misleading. The Phillies are a different team now that they have Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back healthy, and the Nats ran into three hot Phillies starters.
"They're better than their record," LaRoche said. "We were just a little flat, they weren't."
"Mikey (Morse) and (Ian) Desmond being out kind of switched up the lineup," Werth added. "We're a little banged-up, but we've been dealing with that all year. We'll go to Miami, get those two games and we're back home in front of our fans, that'll be good."
The Nats will end up spending the night in Philadelphia tonight and flying to Miami tomorrow because of travel issues brought on by Hurricane Isaac. Given what happened the last three days, they'd probably prefer to get out of town tonight, but they'll have to deal with the City of Brotherly Love for a few more hours.