After losing two to Philadelphia, including a narrow 3-2 loss on Thursday, Washington fans might have been excused for thinking that Friday’s game could lead to a Philadelphia sweep. The Phillies seemed energized against the Nationals, and had saved their pitcher this year — lefty Cole Hamels — for the final game.
But Washington lefty Ross Detwiler outpitched Hamels and, in a game that marked the return of former Phillie Jayson Werth, the Nationals rode his arm to what seemed like an almost effortless 3-0 win. Detwiler was in trouble in each of the first three innings of the game, but ended up by throwing seven scoreless innings, putting down fourteen in a row for his sixth win.
“He got into a little wild spell. He was trying to be fine,” manager Davey Johnson said of Detwiler following the win. “It looked like he was trying to overthrow a little bit. He started the game amped up. Then he started getting confidence, did not overthrow, hit his spots and made it look easy. You could see he had great movement on his fastball.”
Detwiler was also economical, throwing 88 pitches in his seven innings of work, while registering three strikeouts. “Detwiler threw a lot of fastballs,” Phillies’ skipper Charlie Manuel said after the loss. “He moved it around. Had a good sink on it. [We] only hit one ball hard of off him, I thought — the single to right field by Utley [in the first inning]. That’s the only ball we squared up on him.”
But the Washington victory, and the Detwiler shutout, might not have been possible without an electrifying play from Bryce Harper in the second inning. With runners on first and second and one out, Philadelphia’s Michael Martinez singled to right field. John Mayberry attempted to score on the play, but was gunned out at home on a perfect, one hop, throw from Harper.
“I think after that throw from Bryce into home, I looked inside myself and said everybody’s trying really hard out here, and I’ve had a lot of baserunners on in the first three innings and I really need to settle down,” Detwiler said in acknowledging the lift provided by Harper’s second inning heroics.
Detwiler’s pitching and Harper’s throw set the stage for Washington’s hitters, who handed Hamels only his sixth loss of the season. The big bat for Washington was Adam LaRoche, who was 3-4 on the night, with two RBIs. LaRoche hit his 20th homer of the year in the second — which gave Washington a lead they never relinquished. The team’s leading RBI producer, LaRoche has raised his average on the season by sixteen points in the last ten games.
“It was a good start for us, get on the board early, especially after we lost the first two games,” LaRoche said in summing up Washington’s three game series against the Phillies. “We had been pretty stagnant, not a lot going. We put some big hits together today. We had some good baserunning and got it done.”
Returning after missing 75 straight games due to a broken wrist, suffered in a game back in May against these same Phillies. Werth was 1-3 in his return, accounted for an RBI on an infield out, and was glad to be back in the line-up. “It’s like I never missed a step,” he said after the win.
Photos: Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo