Phillies Vs. Nationals: Cliff Lee Outduels Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals Lose 4-0

Jordan Zimmermann had a perfect game through five innings, but gave up a home run, and that was all Cliff Lee needed. The Phillies' lefty hurled a complete-game shutout and the Phillies won, 4-0.

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Phillies Vs. Nationals Final Score: Hot Start For Nationals Ends Cold In 4-0 Loss To Philadelphia

The final game of a three game series between the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies started as a hot pitching duel between pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Cliff Lee, but it ended in a cold-beating, as the Phillies used the longball and two Nationals errors to win 4-0 and take the first series between the two teams in 2011. 

Zimmermann pitched a perfect game through five-innings, but then experienced a breakdown in the beginning of the sixth inning by giving up a lead-off homerun to Carlos Ruiz. After that, it was as if some spark had been extinguished, and the Nationals never recovered. An error in the field by third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. in the fifth allowed Shane Victorino to score.

Betrayed by both his own stuff and the defense behind him, Zimmermann came out to pitch the seventh and then the eighth, but it was in the eighth he ran into trouble after a Danny Espinosa error helped load the bases. Reliever Drew Storen was called from the bullpen to prevent a rupture of scoring, but one out and two singles later, the Phillies added two more runs to the final score.

It is the second night in a row the Phillies have gotten a complete game out of their starting pitcher against the Nats, and it is the second night the Nationals' offense has left their starter high and dry on the scoreboard. The Nationals have also committed four errors in the past two games. For a team that is supposed to have veteran hitters, a better bench and be better defensively, the performance over the last two games should concern general manager Mike Rizzo.

The Nationals fall to 5-7 and into a third-place tie with the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.

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Phillies Vs. Nationals Score: Jordan Zimmermann Has A Perfect Game Through Five Innings

All eyes at Nationals Park are on Washington Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee while the rest of the players have become mere pawns in a smoking pitcher’s duel that have the two teams tied 0-0 going into the sixth. Zimmerman, thus far, has a perfect game through five innings.

The only hits of the night so far has been from Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa. In the third-inning Espinosa lead off double. He was able to get to third with one out, but the Nationals were unable to bring him in cleanly as Zimmermann hit into a fielders choice and Espinosa was out at home. On the next at-bat, Ian Desmond struck out to end the inning and the only scoring chance for either team thus far. Later Wilson Ramos singled in the fifth.

This all means that Zimmermann has a perfect game through five-innings. To the superstitious we apologize, but it has to be said. Jordan Zimmerman has been perfect through five-innings, not Cliff Lee.

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Phillies Vs. Nationals: Zimmermann Looks For Win Vs. Cliff Lee In Rubber Match

He is known as the pitcher that just doesn’t smile. Washington Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann (1-1, 3.18 ERA) is all business, and looks to take that business to the mound Thursday night in the rubber match against Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park.

Zimmermann is coming off his first victory of the season on April 8 against the New York Mets, where he pitched five innings of two-run ball, striking out four and produced a two-RBI single of his own. The Nationals won, 6-2, spoiling the Mets home opener at Citi Field.

Opposing No. 27 will be Lee, a name that usually puts fear in the hearts of Major League batters and pitchers alike. But this season, Lee has surprisingly shown he is vulnerable. Lee is currently 1-1 with a 7.84 ERA and is coming off a 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves where he only lasted 3 1/3 innings and gave up six earned runs.

Lee will be looking to rebound, so it is important the Nationals try and get to him early. They don’t need to swing for the fences; they merely need to get the ball into play. Crush the ball, crush Lee’s confidence. Easier said than done especially when a good portion of their potential lineup -- Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos -- have never faced Lee. Zimmermann also has never gone toe-to-toe with the big left-hander.

A side note to the Lee drama on the mound: this will be the first time Lee and Nats outfielder Jayson Werth will come face to face with each other on opposite sides of the plate this season. In the offseason, the two baseball buddies signed for their current respective teams, but had some bizarre choice words for each other about their decisions. The best of friends shall become the bitterest of enemies.

The crowd at Nationals Park will also become a story in itself, as tonight is the first time this season buses of opposing fans will be coming in a "planned invasion." The Nationals have not enjoyed the comforts of home field advantage in their own Park the past few seasons when this happens.

However, a Nationals series win against Lee could quickly start putting an end to such episodes.

Nationals Lineup

Ian Desmond - SS

Rick Ankiel - CF

Jayson Werth - RF

Adam Laroche - 1B

Wilson Ramos - C

Michael Morse - LF

Danny Espinosa - 2B

Jerry Hairston Jr. - 3B

Jordan Zimmermann - SP

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