Burnett, bats make quick work of Nationals
Right-hander allows just one run over six frames on way to victory
PHILADELPHIA -- Mike Adams found himself on the mound in the eighth inning again, but this time with a five-run lead at the end of a relatively stress-free Saturday night against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.
He retired the side in order, pumping a 92-mph fastball past Jayson Werth for the second out.
"I felt loose, and I was a little [ticked] off about yesterday," Adams said following a 7-2 victory. "The whole day I was thinking, 'Hopefully, I can get back in there today no matter what the situation is just to put yesterday in the rear view.' It worked out perfectly."
The eighth inning had little impact on the outcome, but it represented a moment of redemption for Adams, who blew Friday night's one-run lead in a 5-3 loss. The victory helped the Phillies bounce back from an ugly loss to improve to 14-14 and put them in position to win a series against the Nationals with a victory Sunday afternoon.
But A.J. Burnett and the offense deserve most of the credit Saturday.
Burnett continues to impress. He allowed three hits, one run, two walks and struck out seven in six innings to improve to 2-1 with a 2.06 ERA. He would have pitched longer if not for a 24-minute rain delay after the sixth. Regardless, Burnett has a 0.98 ERA (three earned runs in 27 2/3 innings) with 25 strikeouts and five walks in his last four starts.
Those four starts follow his diagnosis of an inguinal hernia, which he will pitch with the remainder of the season.
"I think about it because it's there," Burnett said. "I was telling somebody the other day, the off-day we had, it bugged me all day. The next few days it's gone. It comes and goes. It's something I've got to deal with."
The Phillies needed a performance like that.
They needed a good one from the offense, too. They got it.
Jimmy Rollins, who had his first four-hit game since June 12, 2012, singled to right field and stole second and Chase Utley walked to put runners on first and second with one out in the first inning against Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark, who had not allowed a run in his last two starts. Ryan Howard followed and crushed an 0-1 fastball to left-center field for a three-run home run to make it 3-0.
Howard, who missed much of the last two seasons with injuries to his left leg, has six home runs and 17 RBIs this season, putting him on pace for 34 homers and 98 RBIs.
"It's still kind of a game of catch-up for me because I've really been out for the last year, year-and-a-half, two years," he said. "But I'm just taking it day by day and continuing to progress and take it as it comes."
The Phillies had a 3-0 lead, but could they extend it? Marlon Byrd hit a three-run home run in the first inning Friday, but the Phillies' offense hibernated the rest of the way. Much of the focus Friday night centered on the beleaguered bullpen, but Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg lamented the fact the Phillies could not score a few more runs after the first inning.
"A little déjà vu there in the first inning," Sandberg said.
History would not repeat itself. Cody Asche hit a solo home run to right field in the second to make it 4-0.
Asche is hitting .333 (6-for-18) with two doubles, one home run, four RBIs, two walks and five strikeouts since singling to start a four-run rally in the ninth inning April 24 against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
The Phillies need more of that from Asche. Phillies third basemen entered the night with a .508 OPS, which was the lowest mark in baseball.
Domonic Brown and Carlos Ruiz hit back-to-back doubles in the fourth inning to make it 5-0. Byrd's single to left with the bases loaded in the fifth scored two runs to hand the Phillies a 7-0 lead. Byrd has 22 RBIs this season, which ranks fifth in the National League.
The bullpen allowed one hit, one run and struck out six in three innings to secure the victory. It included Adams, who struck out two.
"He wanted to get back out there the next day," Burnett said. "The ol' Maverick -- keep sending him up. It doesn't matter, that's what he wants to do. We're not perfect. We're human beings and we're going to make mistakes and have rough ones. But to get back out there and do what he did tonight was a big step for him."