WASHINGTON -- The Phillies’ quest to reach the .500 mark lives on after a 5-2 loss to the Washington Nationals on Friday night.
Kyle Kendrick was not sharp and neither was the defense when the Nats rallied for four runs in the decisive fifth inning.
The Phils have been held to two or fewer runs in 19 of 48 games. They are 23-25. Washington is 25-23.
This was the first of 19 meetings between the two clubs.
Starting pitching report
Kendrick suffered his second straight loss to fall to 4-3 on the season. His command was not good; he needed 107 pitches to get through five innings. He threw just 62 strikes. The right-hander allowed 12 base runners on eight hits and four walks. Kendrick walked just two batters in his first three starts this month. He has walked eight in his last two. He has given up nine runs in his last two starts after giving up just eight in his previous six.
Jordan Zimmermann stayed on course for the All-Star Game. He held the Phils to two runs over seven innings and did not walk a batter. Zimmermann has allowed two or fewer runs in nine of 10 starts. He is 8-2 with a 1.71 ERA.
The Phillies, looking for middle relief help, had to be encouraged by Mike Stutes coming up from Triple A and throwing two shutout innings.
Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano closed it out for Washington.
At the plate
The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Ryan Howard had a leadoff double and scored on a one-out single by Domonic Brown, whose 25 RBIs are tied with Howard and Chase Utley for the team lead.
The Phillies got four singles in the fifth inning but scored just one run -- on a sacrifice fly by Erik Kratz. Ben Revere had a chance to do some one-out damage but grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to end the frame.
The Nats scored four times off Kendrick in the bottom of the fifth inning. Adam LaRoche had an RBI triple off the center-field wall with one out to tie the game. It came on a 3-0 pitch. Revere got to the wall but appeared to overrun the ball and couldn’t make the catch. The Nats ended up scoring three runs with two outs on a single by Kurt Suzuki and a double by No. 8 hitter Steve Lombardozzi on a 2-0 pitch. Tyler Moore preceded Lombardozzi’s two-run double with an infield hit. Phils third baseman Michael Young could have gotten the third out on the slow roller, but had trouble getting the ball out of his glove.
In the field
Revere and Young had a chance to make plays that would have limited the damage in the fifth inning, but neither did.
Revere threw out Moore at the plate in the fourth. Kratz hung on to the ball as Moore crashed into him.
Michael Martinez was added to take Utley’s roster spot. More on the Phils’ decision to bring up Martinez and not Darin Ruf here: (see story). The team says Mike Adams will come off the DL on Sunday (see story).
Jonathan Pettibone (3-0, 3.00) opposes Dan Haren (4-5, 5.54) on Saturday night.
WASHINGTON – It looks as if the Phillies will have some action at the winter meetings.
The team is close to signing veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, sources tell CSNPhilly.com. The winter meetings officially begin on Monday. The signing is expected to be announced before the meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, is a veteran of 15 seasons in the majors. He is coming off a strong 2016 season in which he pitched in 51 games for Seattle and Toronto and recorded a 2.81 ERA.
Benoit began the 2016 season with the Mariners and had a 5.18 ERA in 26 games. He was traded to Toronto in July and gave up just one run in 23 2/3 innings over 25 games, but did not pitch in the postseason after suffering a torn calf muscle in late September.
The right-hander has pitched for six teams in his career and has a lifetime 3.79 ERA in 712 games.
Entering the offseason, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said he wanted to improve the bullpen. He opened the offseason by trading for veteran right-hander Pat Neshek and last week claimed lefty David Rollins off waivers from Texas. Now, Klentak is poised to add Benoit.
Benoit has mostly pitched in a setup role in his career, but he does have closer experience. It is unclear what role he’d pitch in for the Phillies. The Phils have Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Neris returning to the back of their bullpen in 2017. Benoit could complement that pair or the Phillies could choose to trade Gomez or Neris.
Neris pitched in 79 games in 2016 and had a 2.58 ERA, so the Phillies would only deal him if they were to get a strong package of talent in return.
The Phillies tendered contracts to three arbitration-eligible players on Friday night and set another free.
Reliever Jeanmar Gomez and infielders Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis were tendered contracts for the 2017 season while outfielder Cody Asche was let go after four seasons with the club.
The Phillies signaled their intention to let Asche go when they designated him for assignment, a move that removed him from the 40-man roster, on Friday afternoon. The club had the option of trading Asche — and likely had discussions with other clubs — but ultimately decided to non-tender him before the 8 p.m. deadline. The move made Asche a free agent.
The Phils had removed Asche from the 40-man roster to clear a spot for David Rollins, a left-handed reliever who was claimed off waivers from Texas on Friday (see story).
Galvis and Hernandez, the team’s regular shortstop and second baseman, respectively, were certain to receive contracts for 2017. Gomez was less certain. He saved 37 games for the Phils in 2016, but struggled badly late in the season.
Phillies officials will try to negotiate 2017 salaries with all three players. If an agreement cannot be reached with a player, an arbitration hearing will be held later in the winter to determine that player’s salary for the coming season.
Gomez made $1.4 million in 2016, Galvis $2 million and Hernandez $525,000. According to mlbtraderumors.com, Gomez projects to make $4.6 million in arbitration, Galvis $4.4 million and Hernandez $2.5 million.
The Phillies' roster is full at 40.