The only kinks in Halladay's armor came in the third inning when he walked two straight batters with two outs, but he was able to get outfielder Jayson Werth to ground out to end the inning. Halladay pitched rock solid all the way until the ninth, when he finally cracked and allowed a leadoff double to Rick Ankiel and a single to Werth. After getting Adam LaRoche to strike out, Laynce Nix and Danny Espinosa followed with RBI singles of their own, pulling the Nats within one and having the tying run on second base. However, Halladay made quick work of pinch hitter Matt Stairs and struck out veteran catcher Ivan Rodriguez for the final out of the game.
Indeed, Halladay is human, but unfortunately the Nationals found that out a bit too late. They did raise Halladay's ERA to 1.23, though. A small consolation prize.
Nats first baseman Adam LaRoche was able to talk his way back into the lineup, and he walked away with a 2-for-4 performance. Lannan pitched well, but it was an average performance that wasn't going to be able to win this game. He falls to 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA.
The umpires made some unpopular calls tonight. Both Nix and Lannan were called out at first on two questionable calls. The Desmond interference call in the fifth was also a head scratcher, and the home umpire's balls and strikes were curious to say the least. But that mattered little with the Nationals offense unable to solve Halladay.
The Nats fall to 5-6 and into third place in the NL East standings. Tomorrow the Nationals go for the rubber match victory at Nationals Park at 7:05 p.m.
By the way, if the Nationals think the worst is over by facing Halladay tonight, it isn't. Tomorrow they go against Cliff Lee.
Desmond bobbled a hard-hit ball hit by Jimmy Rollins and then on the very next play he was called for interference while trying to convert a double play. This allowed Rollins to move to third, and he later score on a Ben Francisco ground out.
Nationals' pitcher John Lannan, up to that point, had done well at neutralizing the Phillies attack, making them ground into two double plays. The Phillies would later again score on a Placido Polanco RBI single in the fifth, and with the bases loaded, Lannan walked Ryan Howard to put another run across the plate for Philadelphia.
Offensively the Nationals have done little against Holladay, only scoring two hits, both Adam LaRoche singles. Halladay had a small breakdown in the third when he walked two straight batters, but he got Jayson Werth to ground out to end the threat and the inning.
The Nationals are looking for an offensive spark heading into the sixth.
Washington Nationals southpaw John Lannan will be taking the mound at Nationals Park and will be looking for the early decisive series knockout punch tonight against the Philadelphia Phillies. A win tonight would guarantee the Nationals win the first series of the season between the two teams, and deliver a clear message the Nationals will not be easy to push around in the NL East in 2011.
Lannan (1-0, 3.60 ERA) will certainly have his work cut out for him, as he will be challenged by an always powerful Phillies line-up and starting pitcher Roy Halladay (1-0, 0.69 ERA). Halladay has had success against the Nats, going 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in 2010.
Lannan can't say the same against the Phillies, as he is 0-8 with a 6.09 career ERA against them. The Phillies will be out to enact a measure of revenge on the Army of the Potomac for embarrassing them last night in a 7-4 Nats victory where the Nats threw out a mediocre line-up. Former Phillies star Jayson Werth had a big game against his former team, going 2-for-3 with a double, a RBI, a home run, a walk, a stolen base and two runs scored.
The Nationals will see the return of Adam LaRoche to the line-up, as he has recovered enough from a groin injury to play. His veteran bat and his glove at first base should put Lannan's mind more at ease. The Nats will have the knowledge and intensity of starting catcher Ivan Rodriguez at their disposal tonight, and will need to get production and uncanny plate intelligence out of their younger players such as Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa if they are going to crack Halladay. If last night was any indication, anything can happen.
It should be a classic David versus Goliath type of game, with first pitch at 7:05 P.M. EST.