Johnson discusses Nats’ 3-1 loss to Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - It might be a little deceiving when you look at the box score and see the Phillies committed four errors behind starter Kyle Kendrick tonight.

One of those errors came on a dropped foul pop-up. Two came on one play with the bases empty. Another came on a diving stop by third baseman Michael Young, who stole a single and then handed Kurt Suzuki two bases.

Still, the fact of the matter is that the Phillies committed four errors and the Nationals didn’t turn any of them into a run. They lost 3-1 tonight, marking the third game of this four-game set where they scored two runs or fewer.

“They made a bunch of errors, and we couldn’t capitalize,” manager Davey Johnson said. “Kendrick, he was a lot different than the other guys (this series). He was a lot of offspeed stuff, sliders and whatever. I love my team, we just sometimes haven’t been able to put consistent efforts forth.

“I love this team. It’s a long way to go. A lot of guys are getting where they need to be, just a tough ballgame. All these games here were tough. Just a little break here and there, we could’ve won three of four. But I like the way guys are grinding, and we’re gonna be fine.”

As Johnson mentioned, Kendrick gave the Nats a completely different look than what they’d seen the previous two nights from Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee - two hard-throwing left-handers who rely mainly on their fastballs. Kendrick throws from the right side and worked a lot off his changeup and slider tonight, but Johnson didn’t see that as any excuse for the Nats’ poor offensive showing.

“I believe in zone hitting, you look for pitches you can handle,” Johnson said. “But five hits in nine innings, that’s not too good. We’re much more capable than that.”

The Nats’ lack of offense left Jordan Zimmermann with his fourth loss of the season despite the fact he allowed just two runs over 6 1/3 innings. As I mentioned earlier, Zimmermann has been dealing with some stiffness in his neck lately, something that affected Johnson’s decision on when to go get his right-hander.

He ended up pulling Zimmermann after Phillies pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen smacked a go-ahead double in the seventh, a base hit that gave the home team a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“I know (the neck is) still a lingering problem with Jordan, so normally I wouldn’t probably go get him in that situation, but I just felt like he pitched a great ballgame, kept us in there,” Johnson said. “I didn’t want to aggravate anything or whatever. But he’s been very consistent with the injury and everything else, going out there and giving us a bunch of innings.

“Once he gets loose, I think he’s pretty good. Sometimes, in the hotter weather, being down in the runway, it’ll stiffen up. Occasionally he’d throw and get a little stinger, but he’s awfully good even when he’s not 100 percent. He’s got outstanding stuff.”

The Frandsen double came on an 0-2 slider, a pitch that Zimmermann admitted should’ve been down in the dirt. Instead, it was up a bit, allowing Frandsen to drive it out to right-center. Denard Span had the ball bounce off his glove and drop, but even if he made the catch there, John McDonald would have been able to tag and score the go-ahead run.

Span had a tough game, going 0-for-4 with two double play balls, including one that came on a bunt that he thought rolled foul but didn’t. It clearly wasn’t one of Span’s finer games this season.

“I’m not gonna worry about it,” Johnson said. “He’s a heck of a player.”

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