Through five innings, the Nationals have not managed a single run and have put up just three base hits - all singles - off Kyle Kendrick.
Kendrick, who the Nats lit up on Wednesday, has let just four balls out of the infield. Of the 15 outs he’s retired, 12 have been via the ground ball, and the Nationals’ best threat so far only came after the Phillies starter chucked a pickoff throw down the right field line, allowing Kurt Suzuki to move from first to third.
The play brought a large crowd at Nats Park to its feet, but the rally came to an abrupt halt when Jayson Werth struck out looking to end the inning.
It’s 2-0 Phillies as we go to the sixth.
John Lannan is out of the game after five innings of work. The lefty was in search of a storybook win to clinch the division title, but he won’t get it tonight. He leaves in line for the loss despite pitching a decent ballgame.
Both runs off Lannan came in the second when Darin Ruf tripled to the wall in left-center. Bryce Harper made a lunging attempt at Ruf’s deep fly ball, but he couldn’t corral it and both Carlos Ruiz and Domonic Brown came around to score on the play.
Lannan shook that off and turned in a typical John Lannan outing, allowing six hits and three walks (one intentional) but getting three double play balls to help sneak out of trouble.
Craig Stammen is on to work the sixth inning for the Nats, who will need to piece together some offense to get back in this ballgame.
One bit of good news for the Nats: The Braves currently trail the Pirates 2-1 in the sixth inning.
If the Nats can’t get the job done themselves, maybe the Pirates can give ‘em a hand.
Update: Seven innings played, still nothing on the scoreboard for the Nats.
It’s a 2-0 game as we go to the eighth, as the Nats haven’t been able to touch Kendrick. After Werth stranded a runner at third by taking a called third strike in the fifth inning, Michael Morse did the same thing in the sixth. Kendrick then struck out Danny Espinosa and Suzuki to end the seventh, keeping it a two-run Phillies lead.
Stammen was exceptional in relief of Lannan, striking out all six batters he faced in his two innings of work. Combined with Lannan’s strikeout of Utley to end the fifth, the Nats struck out seven straight batters, but they need more than just Phillies strikeouts. They need runs.
The Braves still trail the Pirates 2-1, however. That game is now going into the eighth.