They had to sit through nearly a two-hour rain delay before they could finish it off, but the Nationals picked up their fourth win in their last five games and second straight over the Phillies tonight by an 8-4 margin.
Stephen Strasburg outpitched A.J. Burnett to move to 5-4 on the season and 6-2 lifetime against the Phillies. The two right-handers both appeared locked in before the Nats got to Burnett for eight runs in innings 4-6.
Here are quotes from the clubhouse after the win:
On Strasburg: “He was good. Again, facing lefties, a heavy lefty lineup is difficult, but he used his changeup really well tonight and spotted his fastball. He was strong, over 100 pitches. He felt good.”
On Espinosa’s bases-loaded double in the fourth: “Two strikes, he’s just trying to square it up. He got a ball up in the zone that he was able to do the job and hit the ball to the outfield. He got a little extra tonight, almost. But I’m happy for him. He’s working hard.”
On what changed that allowed the Nats to get to Burnett in the middle innings: “Just I thought he lost a little bit of command, so he started to get behind some guys. That’s the secret to pitching effectively is getting ahead. And hitting effectively is taking advantage of a mistake behind in the count. That’s the way the games are played out every day. We got ourselves in a position to score some runs and the guys took care of it, so that’s good.”
On Ryan Zimmerman not being able to get to a Reid Brignac liner to the warning track: “It’s opposite field, short-hopped the wall. That’s a tough play. That’s a tough play for anybody. That ball ran away from him. Anytime a guy hits a ball to the opposite field, it’s going to run away from the fielder. He took a little jab step in or a little step toward the plate and then retreated. If he didn’t take that step, could he have caught it? Potentially. But I think he had a fine route. He was there just a little bit too far from it.”
On if you can only really work on that play in a game: “You just can’t practice that. Again, the ball’s going to run away from him, towards that line, so it’s part of that getting out there and playing. I think he had a good route, had some closing speed on it, just couldn’t quite get there.”
On his success against the Phillies: “I don’t know. I just go out there and try to do my job. That’s the bottom line. Some teams, I don’t pitch as well against. And some teams, I pitch a little bit better. I guess a lot of it has to do with how I feel at the time.”
On the run support tonight: “I think it’s great. The guys came up big again tonight, and it makes it much easier. I think I made the mistake with (John) Mayberry of maybe looking at the scoreboard a little bit, pretty much just throwing him a fastball down the middle and seeing how far he could hit it. And he hit it pretty far. I’ve just got to do a better job of staying in the game plan and not really changing my approach depending on the score.”
On what was working for him tonight: “Fastball command was really good. I was throwing it down in the zone all night and throwing some good fastballs in. Once you start pounding them in, that opens up the outside corner of the plate.”
On his recent hot streak: “I mean, I think I’ve been swinging it good for a couple of weeks now. It feels good to be contributing and just doing my job. I’m the leadoff hitter. It’s my job to get us going. It feels good when I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. Everybody on the team has a job. When each person pulls their load and we all come together, we do pretty good.”
On guys producing throughout the order: “It’s definitely a good sign when multiple guys are swinging the bat well. There’s nothing more frustrating than when it was just one guy swinging the bat well, and you can’t get anything going. But it seems like, collectively as a team offensively, we’ve been scoring runs and finding ways to score a lot of runs.”
On the offense coming around: “Well, it’s cliche. I’ve probably said this a million times in my career, but hitting is contagious. That’s really the answer right there. When one or two guys swing the bat, it almost seems like the third guy who comes up says, ‘You know what? I’m going to look for that same pitch, or I’m going to look for a good pitch and try to put a good swing on the ball.’ “