Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Nats' rally in 9th, but drop opener with Phils

Roark logs 6 solid frames before 'pen yields big HR in 7th
MLB.com @JamalCollier

PHILADELPHIA -- As Dave Martinez sat in the dugout and watched the Nationals emerge from the clubhouse to take the field for batting practice on Thursday evening, the skipper was hopeful of seeing a renewed sense of urgency from his club for the start of a crucial four-game series against the Phillies.

Philadelphia came to Nationals Park and nearly swept a three-game set last week, so perhaps this would serve as a chance for the Nats to return the favor and make up ground in the National League East. Instead they dropped the opener, 4-3, for their third consecutive loss and fifth in the past six games.

View Full Game Coverage

PHILADELPHIA -- As Dave Martinez sat in the dugout and watched the Nationals emerge from the clubhouse to take the field for batting practice on Thursday evening, the skipper was hopeful of seeing a renewed sense of urgency from his club for the start of a crucial four-game series against the Phillies.

Philadelphia came to Nationals Park and nearly swept a three-game set last week, so perhaps this would serve as a chance for the Nats to return the favor and make up ground in the National League East. Instead they dropped the opener, 4-3, for their third consecutive loss and fifth in the past six games.

View Full Game Coverage

No team in the NL has scored fewer runs this month than the Nationals, and Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola was the latest author of their frustration. He allowed just one run in 7 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts. The Nats fell to 8-15 this month, a full two games behind the Phillies for second place and four games behind the first-place Braves.

"At what point is it not early in the year? I feel like it's now for the most part," shortstop Trea Turner said. "We're not in first place. We've got some catching up to do."

Tanner Roark battled through six innings, working around seven hits and three walks to hold the Phillies to just two runs. He has been making adjustments to his mechanics this month, lowering his hands and simplifying his delivery, in effort to cut down on his increased pitch counts early in games.

"It's still a work in progress for feeling it completely," Roark said. "But I felt a lot better. Just velocity, I felt like was a tick more. Just being consistent with that."

Even though his pitch count bloated through three innings, Roark was able to settle in and keep his team in the game. At least until the seventh inning, when Rhys Hoskins connected for a two-run home run against reliever Ryan Madson.

Video: WSH@PHI: Taylor lines an RBI double in the 9th

Michael A. Taylor's RBI double fueled a two-run ninth against Tommy Hunter, but Seranthony Dominguez, who had allowed Taylor to score on a wild pitch, struck out the final two batters to seal the win.

"We're going to snap out of this, we really are," Martinez said. "It's just a matter of time. I want them to keep pushing, I want them to keep going and play with energy."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Nationals' last victory was on Sunday night, when Daniel Murphy lined the go-ahead two-run single in the eighth inning that went over the head of Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez.

Video: PHI@WSH: Murphy puts Nats ahead with 2-run single

Murphy had a chance for more heroics in the eighth inning on Thursday, when he came to the plate as the potential tying run against lefty Adam Morgan. This time, Hernandez was in perfect position to catch Murphy's soft liner to end the inning and preserve the lead.

Video: WSH@PHI: Morgan escapes a jam in the 8th

"We're getting guys on base, but we haven't really been getting them in," Turner said. "And obviously that's the step. We're not losing by a ton for the most part ... but that's the difference in the game. They're getting those hits, and we're not."

HE SAID IT
"We've got some pretty big games coming up, some teams that are doing really well. So what I would really like to see is for them to play with a sense of urgency. This is the time right now where we could make up some ground and do some good things for ourselves." -- Martinez

"I told [pitching coach Derek] Lilliquist I was going to do it for my next start. And he said, 'You won't.' I was going to line up my beard, but then I just decided to do this. I forget that I have it sometimes. When I look by a mirror, I see myself and it surprises me, and makes me laugh. It's always a good thing to laugh." -- Roark, on his new facial hair

UP NEXT
Nationals right-hander Erick Fedde will take the mound searching for his first career win when he squares off against Phillies righty Nick Pivetta at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday at Citizens Bank Park. Adam Eaton should be back in the lineup after he was the odd man out on Thursday, as the Nats continue to balance playing time for their four outfielders.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Tanner Roark