After four innings of scoreless ball tonight, Gio Gonzalez had worked 13 consecutive innings without allowing a run.
Then came the fifth inning.
The scoreless streak is now over, and the Nationals trail 4-1.
Gonzalez allowed four runs on four hits in the fifth, with John Mayberry’s solo shot to left tying the game 1-1 and Carlos Ruiz’s bases-clearing, two-out double to right bringing in three more runs to give the Phillies their first lead of the night.
Ruiz’s double came on a first-pitch fastball from Gonzalez that got too much of the plate. Ruiz poked it to right, out of the reach of Jayson Werth, and three runs came around on the play.
I, of course, mentioned Gonzalez’ scoreless-innings streak on Twitter after the fourth inning, so I’m clearly the one to blame for this terrible turn of events.
My apologies, everyone. I won’t let it happen again.
The Nationals had taken an early 1-0 lead in the first when Denard Span singled leading off the inning (extending his hitting streak to 25 games,) stole second base, moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a Werth sac fly.
Through five innings tonight, Span already has two hits and three stolen bases. That sets a career high for Span for most stolen bases in a single game and marks just the second time a National has had three stolen bases in a game since 2005.
Nyjer Morgan is the other. He did it in 2010.
Span’s average is now up to .282, and he’s swiped 16 bags on the year. His numbers continue to rise along with his hitting streak.
The Nats, however, trail in the middle innings, and with the Reds winning earlier today, the Nats need a win to stay 4 1/2 games back of Cincinnati for the final NL wild card spot.
Update: Gonzalez went six innings tonight, allowing the four runs on nine hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Davey Johnson went to his bullpen for the seventh, only to have left-hander Ian Krol falter again.
Krol threw seven pitches to two batters. He allowed a Jimmy Rollins double, threw a wild pitch, then surrendered an RBI single to Chase Utley.
Utley’s single made it a 5-1 Phillies lead, and that was it for Krol, who now has an 8.00 ERA over his last 12 big league appearances, this after pitching to a 2.00 ERA in his first 19 major league outings.
The Nats have put a runner on base in all but one inning against Cole Hamels tonight, but they still just have the first-inning run.
Update II: The Nats have made this game a lot more interesting, punching across three runs in the bottom of the seventh to make it a 5-4 Phillies lead, but they’re probably left wondering what might have been after Wilson Ramos was called on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce on a pitch that appeared to be well off the plate.
That call ended the inning, and left Bryce Harper, the potential tying run, stranded at third.
After Ian Desmond’s sac fly with the bases loaded made it a 5-2 game, Harper dropped a single into shallow center, and Phillies center fielder Cesar Hernandez badly misplayed the ball, allowing two runs to score on the play. Werth came all the way around from first on a ball that only traveled about 220 feet, and all of a sudden, it was a one-run game.
Harper reached second on Hernandez’s error, then stole third, but Ramos was called out on this Justin De Fratus curveball that looked to be both inside and low. Joyce called it a strike, however, and that ended the inning and the threat.
The Nats are still down by a run as we make our way into the eighth, and will need some more late-inning magic to extend their winning streak to eight.
Update III: The Nats got a runner into scoring position with one out in the eighth. They got a runner into scoring position with no outs in the ninth. They didn’t capitalize either time.
The Nats went 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position tonight and drop this one 5-4, snapping their seven-game winning streak.
They certainly had their chances, they just weren’t able to deliver.
The loss combined with Cincinnati’s win earlier today pushes the Nats to 5 1/2 games back in the wild card race with 14 games to play.