WASHINGTON — Sunday’s matchup between Cole Hamels and the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg was as good as advertised as both aces traded goose eggs for nearly seven innings at Nationals Park.
But then the bottom dropped out for the Phillies.
A series of errors and defensive miscues in the seventh inning caused Hamels and the Phillies to become unhinged in a 6-1 defeat. As a result, the Phillies (24-26) failed to reach the .500 mark again and the Nats remained in second place by two games.
Hamels’ final line doesn’t give a full representation of how well he pitched. Though he was charged for five runs (three earned) on six hits, a walk and six strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings, Hamels was nursing a three-hit shutout into the seventh.
Ryan Zimmerman barely beat out a slow grounder to Freddy Galvis at second base and Adam LaRoche singled. After Ian Desmond’s sacrifice bunt, Hamels intentionally walked Tyler Moore before inducing what seemed to be a force-out grounder from Jhonatan Solano.
But third baseman Michael Young’s throw to the plate skipped past catcher Humberto Quintero to allow two runs to score. The Nats added two more when Steve Lombardozzi cued a double to right that was booted by Delmon Young.
That play ended Hamels’ afternoon.
For the Nats, Strasburg balked in the Phillies’ lone run with two outs in the eighth. He scattered five hits without a walk and picked up nine strikeouts.
Strasburg also pitched eight innings for the second time in the past 15 days after failing to pitch into the eighth in his first 53 starts.
Out of the ‘pen
Justin De Fratus got the last two outs of the seventh inning on a pair of strikeouts. He also allowed an inherited runner to score and gave up a hit and a walk.
Chad Durbin, working for the second time in as many days, allowed a run on three hits in the eighth.
At the plate
The Phillies eked out five singles — two by Ben Revere — and batted 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position. The Phillies also grounded into a pair of double plays and struck out in order twice against Strasburg.
LaRoche and Strasburg both had a single and a double at the plate for Washington.
The Phillies continue the road trip with a pair of games in Boston beginning on Monday night. Tyler Cloyd (1-0, 2.70) goes up against Alfredo Aceves (1-1, 8.20), who is starting in place of the scratched Clay Buchholz in the opener. Cliff Lee (5-2, 2.48) takes on Ryan Dempster (2-5, 4.69) on Tuesday.
The Phillies and Red Sox move to Philly for two more games starting on Wednesday. Kyle Kendrick (4-3, 3.29) faces John Lackey (3-4, 2.72) in the opener at Citizens Bank Park and Jonathan Pettibone (3-0, 3.21) faces lefty Jon Lester (6-1, 3.34) in the finale on Thursday.