WASHINGTON (AP) — Philadelphia Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has tried virtually every batting order imaginable in an effort to get some production from his team’s struggling offense.
His latest lineup card came up empty, as the Phillies were blanked by Tanner Roark and two relievers in an 8-0 loss to the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
Afterward, Mackanin acknowledged that starting pitcher Aaron Nola wasn’t particularly sharp. Mostly, though, he blamed the team’s bats.
“Roark pitched well but we didn’t hit. It looked to me like we were guessing,” Mackanin said. “We were guessing wrong on pitches, and that’s something we’ve got to get away from.”
Putting Ryan Howard on the bench and making Tommy Joseph the everyday first baseman is only part of Mackanin’s effort to milk some runs out of this team, which got seven hits.
“You’ve been seeing my lineups,” he said. “I’m dipsy-doodling every day. Is that a word?”
Before Washington scored four runs in the second inning, the Phillies put runners on second and third with no outs in the top half. Roark struck out the side, including Nola.
“That kind of set the tone,” Mackanin said.
In three starts against Philadelphia this season, Roark is 2-0 with an 0.86 ERA.
Stephen Drew and Anthony Rendon had two RBIs apiece for the first-place Nationals, who have won nine of 12 to move a season-high 14 games over .500 (38-24).
Nola (5-5) allowed four runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings, the shortest outing of his career. The right-hander pitched at least six innings in each of his previous nine starts and had not yielded more than three earned runs since April 16, when the Nationals scored seven in an 8-1 victory.
“I felt pretty wild. My curveball was hanging a lot,” Nola said. “They put some good swings on those, especially with two strikes. I was too much in the zone.”
Nola is 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA against Washington and 5-2 with a 2.10 ERA against everyone else.
Maikel Franco had two hits for the Phillies, who have allowed 17 runs in the first two games of the series. Philadelphia has gone 7-18 since bolting to a 22-15 start.
Roark (5-4) gave up six hits, struck out seven and walked one. Coming off the shortest start in his four-year career — a clunker in Cincinnati — the right-hander found his groove against the skidding Phillies.
“He was strong,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He only went three innings last time. His pitch count wasn’t that high. He was exceptionally sharp this time.”
Roark shined at the plate, too.
Although he’s still hitless this season (0 for 22), he had the key blow in Washington’s big second inning. With runners at the corners and one out, Roark dropped a lovely bunt down the first base line on a 2-2 pitch. Tommy Joseph scooped up the ball and threw home too late, enabling Roark to reach base with his second career RBI in 98 games.
Michael A. Taylor followed with a run-scoring single, and Roark scored on a single by Bryce Harper.
“The play of the game was when he got that two-strike bunt down. That kind of opened the gates for things,” Baker said. “I think the guys were more excited about that than anything.”
The Nationals pulled away in the fifth, when Rendon doubled in two runs and Drew delivered a sacrifice fly.
Phillies: With RHP Vince Velasquez (biceps strain) being placed on the disabled list Friday, 22-year-old RHP Zach Eflin will make his major league debut Tuesday in Toronto, Mackanin said.
Nationals: In part because this game started just 14 hours after Friday night’s game ended, Baker fielded a starting lineup without regulars Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa and Jayson Werth.
Phillies: Adam Morgan (1-5, 6.70 ERA) takes the mound in the series finale, seeking his first victory in more than a month.
Nationals: Joe Ross (5-4, 2.92) has been sharp against the Phillies this season, going 2-0 with an 0.61 ERA in two starts.
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