The Washington Nationals must have felt they were in an offensive prison of sorts as Philadelphia Phillies starter Roy Halladay completely locked the Nationals lineup down. Two errors by Nats shortstop Ian Desmond and a hit-by-pitch on Ryan Howard from John Lannan to score a run with the bases loaded in the fifth was all the Philies needed for a 3-2 victory.
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.