WASHINGTON -- The Nationals and Phillies found themselves in a pitchers' duel on Thursday afternoon, but thanks to some clutch ninth-inning hitting, the Phillies completed their three-game sweep, winning 3-0 at Nationals Park. It was the Phillies' first sweep at Nationals Park since 2009.Scoreless heading into the ninth inning, the
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals and Phillies found themselves in a pitchers' duel on Thursday afternoon, but thanks to some clutch ninth-inning hitting, the Phillies completed their three-game sweep, winning 3-0 at Nationals Park. It was the Phillies' first sweep at Nationals Park since 2009.
Scoreless heading into the ninth inning, the Phillies loaded the bases with one out and Jonathan Papelbon on the mound. On a 2-2 pitch, Cameron Rupp doubled over Bryce Harper's head in right field to score Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis. Two batters later, David Lough reached base on an infield single, scoring Maikel Franco. All three runs were charged to Nationals reliever Felipe Rivero, who allowed two hits and an intentional walk to start the inning.
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Rivero started the inning because manager Dusty Baker didn't like the matchup between Papelbon and the top of the Phillies' batting order.
"Sometimes, those things don't work. It's just one of those days where nothing worked," manager Dusty Baker said. "We'll get it fixed. It's not easy while you're in it, and it doesn't take long to get in a funk like that. You don't have any choice. You just gotta keep playing, keep grinding."
The upstart Phillies finished their road trip at 5-1.
"When we started 0-4, that obviously wasn't a good start, but the guys just hung in there," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "This is huge to get our confidence back. The guys scrape and scratch, but you've got to hand it to the pitching. The pitching is the reason we're able to win games."
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The Nationals collected four hits in the game against four Phillies pitchers and scored only three runs during the three-game series.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Roark solid again: After a 15-strikeout performance last weekend, right-hander Tanner Roark once again thrived, throwing seven shutout innings and striking out six batters. The Phillies had runners in scoring position only once, but Cesar Hernandez was thrown out trying to advance from second to third base in the fifth inning.
"I felt good. The body felt good. The arm felt good. The training staff does one heck of a job," Roark said. "I was using all four pitches on righties and lefties, keeping them off balance. That's the name of the game."
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Harper held in check: After walking Harper five times in the first two games, the Phillies wound up pitching to Harper in two key situations on Thursday. Harper grounded out to second with a runner on third to end the sixth inning and struck out swinging on three pitches with the bases loaded to end the bottom of the eighth.
Bourjos' hot smash: With Hernandez on second and two out in the fifth, Peter Bourjos hit a hot smash down the third-base line that Stephen Drew drove to grab. As the ball slithered behind him, the seasoned veteran lunged to pick it up, and with a spinning move, he tagged out the sliding Hernandez.
Nationals offense stymied: The Phillies held the Nationals scoreless for 22 consecutive innings. In Thursday's game, the Nationals went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
"It was one of those days where nothing worked our way -- offensively or defensively," Baker said.
"If somebody told me we'd start off 14-7, I'd be very very happy. We kind of spoiled everybody by starting the way we did, so we'll get it back together, big time. These guys have a lot of pride over here and a lot of determination. At night, when you go to bed, you can be sad, but you got every reason to be happy when the sun comes up tomorrow." -- Baker, on the Nationals responding to the sweep after their hot start to the season
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
In the last five games, Harper has reached base safely in 10 out of 18 plate appearances (.556 OBP, four hits and five walks).
After walking to lead off the game against Roark, it appeared Herrera had stolen second base. But after a 45-second review, the call was reversed, and Herrera was thrown out by Nationals catcher Pedro Severino.
Phillies: They open a three-game Interleague series against the Indians on Friday at Citizens Bank Park at 7:05 p.m. ET. With the season-ending hamstring injury to Charlie Morton, Mackanin has yet to announce a starter for the opener. Corey Kluber is expected to start for Cleveland.
Nationals: The Nationals travel to St. Louis to play a three-game series against the Cardinals. Stephen Strasburg will get the first start for Washington on Friday. Strasburg will face Cardinals right-hander Mike Leake for the second time in his career. The first time was on May 19, 2014, but did not factor in the decision. As the Reds won the game, 4-3, in 15 innings.
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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002.and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.
Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.