PHILADELPHIA - Just like last night, the Nationals trailed the Phillies 3-0 before the first inning was complete.
Unlike last night, the Nats weren’t able to come back and pick up the win.
Ryan Howard’s three-run homer off Tanner Roark in the first put the Nats in another early hole, and the Phillies continued to add on from there, making it 7-0 by the end of the fifth.
Roark was coming off a three-hit shutout his last time out, but he didn’t have his good stuff today, and the Phillies made him pay on a night when the ball was flying out of Citizens Bank Park.
This marked the eighth time that the Nats have allowed three or more runs in the first inning this season, in just 30 games played.
“Well, tonight we couldn’t come back,” manager Matt Williams said. “They had it on, too. (The early deficits are) perplexing, but we’ve been down I think eight or nine games, three or more after the first, and come back in a lot of them. But over the course of a season, you’re not going to be able to come back as much as you want to. Look at Tanner the last time out, he was great. This time, not so much.
“That’s the ebbs and flows of the game and pitching. Not much we can do about it now. Just look forward to the next one.”
What was lacking with Roark’s stuff today?
“Everything was flat today,” Williams said. “His sinker wasn’t sinking. Breaking ball was up in the zone. Other than that, Ryan hit a pretty decent pitch out of the ballpark away. He’s got good power that way. That was the three in the first inning. It happens.”
Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett shut the Nats down, allowing just one run on three hits over six strong innings. He struck out seven and walked two, and seemed to really lock in the few times that he got into a jam tonight.
“The ball’s moving a lot more,” Williams said. “He’s not throwing as hard as he used to, but the ball’s moving a lot. Comeback sinkers to the outside corner. And using his breaking ball, too. He was pinpoint with his control tonight, both sides of the plate.”
Adam LaRoche homered and doubled tonight, but was removed from the game after his longball in the sixth inning. LaRoche has been battling a tight quad lately.
“He’s OK,” Williams said. “Today he hit the double. He wasn’t going great on the double. I think he’s got more in there, but he doesn’t want to push it. Then he hit the homer and we decided to get him out of there and rest him as much as we can.”
Catcher Jose Lobaton was also pulled from the game in the late innings after getting drilled by a Burnett pitch.
“He got hit in the shin with the pitch,” Williams said. “And with the little time off, not moving around at all, it got pretty stiff. He’s got a nice little ball on there. We decided it would be best to get on it right away, in case we’ve got to use him tomorrow.”
Lobaton said afterwards that his shin is sore, but that he’d be OK.