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.