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Phillies Nipped by Nationals, Winning Streak Ends at 5

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Young Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels made short work of the Washington Nationals for 3 innings.  But in the 4th he served up a plum to 1st baseman  Dmitri Young with one out and Young slammed it out to right field for a solo homer and a Nationals lead.  The Hamels got into big trouble in the 6th inning as the Nationals scored 3 runs.

                     Shawn Hill       Dmitri Young

In the meantime, Nationals starter Shawn Hill gave the Phils fits with his fastball and sinker for 8 innings enroute to a 4-2 Washington win.

Yahoo sports’ AP report contrasts the performances of the two starters, Hamels and Hill;

Shawn Hill wouldn’t let an injury to his non-throwing arm keep him off the mound. It’s a good thing for Washington because Hill’s pitching like an ace.

Hill pitched eight-plus innings… and the Nationals snapped Philadelphia’s five-game winning streak with a 4-2 win Thursday.

“A terrific performance,” Washington manager Manny Acta said.

                    Aaron Rowand

Aaron Rowand hit a solo shot for the Phillies to extend his career-best hitting streak to 14 games.

Hill (2-2) gave up two runs and four hits, striking out three in his 14th career start. The right-hander hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of his five starts this season.

Hill missed the 2005 season after having a ligament replaced in his elbow and was shut down after only six starts last year because of elbow problems. He strained his left shoulder on a dive in his last start, but didn’t feel any ill effects on the mound.

“The shoulder is a little tight, a little tired, but no big deal,” Hill said. “We really needed the win and I wanted to give the bullpen a rest.”

Coming off a complete-game, 15-strikeout performance at Cincinnati last Saturday, Cole Hamels (2-1) had his shortest outing this season. The left-hander allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings.

“Coming off a phenomenal performance, it gives you confidence,” Hamels said. “I was feeling good for five innings then I just got out of my comfort zone.”

The Nationals went ahead 1-0 in the fourth when Young hit an opposite-field homer to right-center, one pitch after left fielder  Pat Burrell threw Ryan Zimmerman out at second base trying to stretch a single into a double.

Austin Kearns followed with a drive that nearly reached the seats in left-center, but he settled for a double. Hamels struck out Ryan Church to end the inning.

Washington chased Hamels with three runs in the sixth.   Ronnie Belliard and Zimmerman started the inning with consecutive singles and advanced on a wild pitch. After Young lined out, Kearns was intentionally walked.

Church then sliced a two-run single to left to make it 3-0.  Michael Restovich walked to the load the bases again and Brian Schneider walked to force in a run. Geoff Geary came in and struck out Hill and retired Josh Wilson on a fly to center.

Things got a bit dicey in the bottom of the 9th for Hill, who had never gone this deep into a game, and for Nationals’ closer Chad Cordero.

Inquirer staff writer Todd Zolecki reports on the Phillies 9th inning;

Hill walked Shane Victorino to lead off the ninth and was replaced by closer Chad Cordero, who blew a save against the Phillies last week in Washington. Chase Utley flied out to the center-field wall, but Ryan Howard doubled to put runners on second and third with one out.

Pat Burrell’s sacrifice fly scored Utley to make it 4-2. But there would be no blown save this time.

Despite the loss, manager Charlie Manuel remained encouraged.

“We’re playing a lot better than we were, but we’ve got three games left on this homestand and we’ve got to come out and win tomorrow,” he said.

With his solo homer in the 8th inning, Aaron Rowand extended his hitting streak to 14 games.  And during the game, the announcers reported that reliever Matt Smith, who had had rough going this season, was sent to the minors for more seasoning and lefthanded reliever Fabio Castro was brought up to the big club in his place.

For all of the scores, boxscores and recaps on this and all Thursday, click here.   The Florida Marlins are next  into Philadelphia on Friday for 3 games with  Freddie Garcia slated to pitch the opener vs Anibal Sanchez.  On Saturday,  Adam Eaton opposes lefthander Dontrelle Willis and on Sunday, veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer faces Wes Obermueller in the get-away game.

For all of the scores, boxscores and recaps on this and all Friday, Saturday and Sunday games, click here, here and here.

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