Shortstop Jimmy Rollins (25 HRs, 82 RBIs, .280 BA) ended an ugly, agonizing 6-6 stalemate with a 2 out, 2 run triple in the 14th inning. Rollins had 4 RBIs for the game. Before winning, the Phillies suffered through a bottom of the 14th inning which saw them nearly blow the game again, for the 3rd time as lefthanded reliever Fabio Castro (0-0, 2.08 ERA, S1) followed the now familiar scenario of this game; getting into a 1 out bases loded jam, enroute to his 1st major league save. It took a game-ending ground ball double play, second to shortstop to first to finally defeat the Washington Nationals by an 8-7 score.
The win enabled the Phils to stay within 1 game of the Los Angeles Dodgers who defeated the Colorado Rockies by a 6-4 score in the NL wild card chase. The Dodgers are also 1 game behind the San Diego Padres in a close NL West race. The Houston Astros, who have now won 8 straight games, are the only other team in contention for the wild card spot, defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates by a 7-6 score in 15 innings to also stay within 1 1/2 games of the St. Louis Cardinals in an ever-tightening NL Central race.
Phillies rookie lefthander Cole Hamels (9-8) had another good ballgame, although giving up 4 runs on 7 hits while walking 1 and striking out 7 in his 6 inning of work and leaving the game with the Phils trailing 4-3. Nationals starter Pedro Astacio (5-5) also pitched 5 good innings giving up 3 runs on 3 hits while walking 1 and striking out 3. However what followed was a parade of relievers for both teams, plenty of agonizing drama, plenty of bases loaded jams on both sides over the course of the last 9 innings before Rollins finally resolved the matter. The Phils stranded 15 runners on base for the game, the Nationals left 14.
The Phillies opened on top with a run off of Nationals starter Astacio in the first on an RBI single by 2nd baseman Chase Utley (32 HRs, 101 RBIs, .312 BA). The Nationals went up by 2-1 in the 2nd inning as 3rd baseman Ryan Zimmerman (20 HRs, 109 RBIs, .287 BA), who has killed the Phillies all season, did so again with a solo blast for 1 of his 3 RBIs for the game. Later in the inning, rightfielder Ryan Church (8 HRs, 32 RBIs, .260 BA) drove in a run, 1 of 2 RBIs for the game, with a single.
Washington extended their lead to 4-1 in the 3rd inning on an RBI single by shortstop Felipe Lopez (11 HRs, 52 RBIs, .276 BA) and on a 1 out run scoring fielder’s choice.
The Phils narrowed the gap to 4-3 as Utley solo homered to right field in the 4th inning and Rollins drove an RBI double to left field in the 5th inning. 4-3 Nationals.
The Phils took a 5-4 lead in the 7th inning as Rollins drove in his 2nd run of the game and centerfielder Shane Victorino (6 HRs, 43 RBIs, .281 BA) drove in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder. Both runs were scored on Nationals reliever Chris Schroder (0-2).
Starter Cole Hamels had a shot to win his 10th game of the season as a result of the Phillies’ 7th inning rally. Relievers Aaron Fultz (3-1), Ryan Madison (10-9) and Matt Smith (0-1, 0.93 ERA) held Wahsington scoreless in the 7th and 8th innings into Tom Gordon (3-4, 3.39 ERA, S33) time in the 9th.
But Gordon blew his 5th save opportunity of the season in the 9th inning as Washington tied the game at 5-5. He got the side out, but not before the tying run scored. Catcher Brian Schneider (4 HRs, 53 RBIs) singled to right to open the inning. After a walk and a sacrifice grounder, Gordon issued an intentional walk to load the bases. Zimmerman was then walked forcing in the tying run.
The Phils went ahead 6-5 in the 10th as 3rd baseman Abraham Nunez doubled in the lead run. But Washington came back in the bottom of the 10th as it was Geoff Geary’s (7-1, 3.02 ERA, S1) turn to blow a save opportunity.
A single, an advance to 2nd base on a ground out put a runner in scoring position for Brian Schneider to drive in with a single to tie the game again.
The Nationals sent reliever Jason Bergmann (0-2) into the game in the 11th inning and he held the Phillies scoreless through the 13th inning.
However, in the 14th inning, Bergmann got into a runners on 1st and 3rd base situation with 2 out. Jimmy Rollins then tripled to drive in both runs to put the Phils up by 8-6.
In the bottom of the 14th, lefthanded Fabio Castro relieved Condrey and got into a bases loaded, none out situation on 2 base hits and a pitcher’s throwing error on a grounder. Centerfielder Ryan Church then hit a sacrifice fly for his 2nd RBI of the game. 8-7 Phillies Then Castro thankfully induced a game-ending ground double play to record his 1st major league save.
For full recap including box score and play-by-play on Wednesday’s game click here.
The Phillies try to win the series on Thursday and hopefully begin a winning streak which will send them to the wild card berth in the NL playoffs. Jon Lieber (9-10) will go for the Phillies trying to even up his seasonal record against lefthander Mike O’Connor (3-8) for the Nationals.
For full coverage of all of Thursday’s games in both leagues; previews, recaps, box scores and play-by-play coverage click here.