The Phillies keep chipping away (Nats win a thriller 8-4)

PHILADELPHIA - What was a 5-0 lead after the top of the second inning has become a tight ballgame as we go to the eighth.

Nothing’s been easy for the Nationals this season, has it?

The Nats’ lead is down to two, as the Phillies have chipped into the Washington advantage with single runs in the third, fourth and seventh innings.

Jimmy Rollins’ solo homer off Ryan Mattheus made it 5-3, but it’s the Nationals’ inability to do anything off the Philadelphia bullpen which has let the home team back into this.

For the second straight night, the Phillies have held the Nats in check after their starter got knocked out of the game. Last night, they held Washington to one hit in four scoreless innings after Cole Hamels got pulled, and tonight, it’s been five scoreless, hitless innings from the Phillies ‘pen.

The Nats bashed around Kyle Kendrick, smashing three homers in their first time through the order. Since then, it’s been a whole lot o’ nothing.

Tyler Clippard is warming for the bottom of the eighth. We’ll see if he can keep the Phils from making this any closer.

Update: Tyler Clippard allowed a run in the eighth to make it a 5-4 game, but it could’ve been a good bit worse.

With Chase Utley on third and Carlos Ruiz on first and one out, Domonic Brown sent a deep fly to right which looked like it might be gone off the bat. The ball came down in the glove of Jayson Werth on the warning track, allowing Utley to score on a sac fly but preserving the lead.

Clippard then allowed a single to Darin Ruf to again put runners on the corners and bring the potential tying run 90 feet from the plate. He responded with a huge strikeout of Kevin Frandsen, however, preserving the lead.

The Nats have a one-run lead as we go to the ninth, as Drew Storen starts to get loose in the Nats’ bullpen.

Update II: Werth stirred things up just before a ninth-inning at-bat, then delivered in a big way. And he has to be on cloud nine right now.

Standing in the on-deck circle, a foul ball off the bat of Danny Espinosa rolled towards Werth. He pretended to toss it to a fan, only to lob it into the Nats’ dugout instead. That drew the ire of what was left of the 41,440 at Citizens Bank Park tonight, who started booing Werth loudly.

After Phillies reliever Justin De Fratus threw one under Werth’s chin, the right fielder responded by ripping one up the middle to make it a 7-4 game. He gave a fist pump and an animated clap of the hands as he rounded first base, and then came in to score on Bryce Harper’s triple one batter later.

It’s 8-4 as Storen trots in for the bottom of the ninth.

Update III: They were up five. Then they were only up one and looked to be losing their grip on this game. Then they plated three ninth=inning runs to allow everyone to breathe again.

The Nats beat the Phillies 8-4 in a roller coaster ballgame. The Braves won tonight, but so did the Nats, and their magic number to clinch the division is now down to four.

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