Ryan Howard and David Bell homered in a ninth-inning rally, but the Phillies couldn’t hold on, losing to the Nationals 5-4 Saturday night.
Preston Wilson delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 12th off Aquilino Lopez, blooping a single to right that scored Jose Guillen from second.
Howard and Bell tied the game in the ninth off closer Chad Cordero, driving consecutive homers to deep left that pulled the score to 4-4. It was Cordero's fifth blown save this season.
Howard continued his recent heroics off good pitching, and for Bell, it was his third clutch hit in as many games. This was his hardest-hit ball of the season, a blazing shot that just missed the upper deck.
The admirable charge came up short after Washington starter John Patterson locked up the Phils through 7 2-3, striking out eight. The big right-hander tossed a season-high 119 pitches, using a tailing fastball that froze the left-handed bats. Patterson (8-4, 2.44) is among the best pitchers the team has faced in 2005.
Pat Burrell was the only hitter to connect off Patterson, a solo shot in the second, his 28th of the year. After struggling on the road early, he's had a consistent trip, going 13-40 with four homers. Burrell and Howard represent the best hitters on the team right now.
The Phils blew several golden opportunities to score, including two bases-loaded chances that fell into the lap of Jimmy Rollins. With two outs in the fifth, Rollins popped up the first pitch to end the threat, and in the 11th, J-Roll made it easy for struggling reliever Gary Majewski, chasing high and grounding into a fielder’s choice with one out.
Rollins has been a clueless hitter this season: buckling, hacking, twirling. His .679 OPS is the lowest it’s been since May 31. He’s logged 70 more at bats than the next highest teammate, Bobby Abreu, but his approach is among the most amateur on the team.
The broadcast crew will point to his streak of consecutive games reaching base safely, but that’s a bogus number. He’s been dense to his leadoff responsibilities ever since the Phils asserted themselves into the playoff hunt.
Some players look comfortable in tough spots. Others look like Bobby Abreu.
Someone is bound to throw a stat my direction that says Abreu has done very well with runners in scoring position and past the seventh inning. But when it comes to delivering when even I can feel the pressure through the television screen, Abreu rarely comes through.
Abreu and Chase Utley, the Phils three-and four hitters, went 0-10 last night.
The Phillies began the game with Eude Brito, making the second start of his career. Brito went four innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs. The Phils were lucky the Nationals didn’t score more. They were seeing Brito’s pitches very well and driving them hard.
The loss overshadows two fine relief performances by Geoff Geary and Aaron Fultz. For Geary, it was his best outing of the season, pitching three shutout innings, surrendering one walk and no hits. Fultz pitched shutout ball in the 10th and 11th as he continues to assert himself as the bullpen's best southpaw next to Billy Wagner.
- Something has kicked in with David Bell. Charlie Manuel hasn’t given him a day’s rest in a while, a move I would have considered with how badly he’s struggled. Bell has responded with three clutch hits and seven RBIs in three games. I had a small hunch Bell would finish strong. He’s a former NLCS MVP, and I can’t help but wonder if sniffing the playoffs has triggered something inside. Bell has made an entire career getting by on guts and concentration over athlethic ability.
- Ugueth Urbina’s strikeout of Preston Wilson with two outs, runners on second and third in the ninth is the type of situation Ed Wade had in mind when he traded for him.
- The Phillies faced Gary Majewski for the 745th time this season.
- Ryan Howard now leads all NL rookies with 13 homers. I’d say that 10 of those weren’t hit squarely, including the one last night that floated over the left-field wall in cavernous RFK. One of these days he’s going to meet a pitch with the fat of the bat and hit one to South America.