Phillies 5, Nationals 4: Lefty Specialist Fail

Roy Halladay wasn’t his best today, but was good enough to improve to 11-1 all time vs the Nationals as the Phillies beat Washington 5-4 in the first of a three game series at Nationals Park. Halladay went seven innings, giving four runs, three from solo home runs.

Two or three weeks ago, four runs surrendered by the starter probably would have meant a loss, but a resurgent Phillies offense sparked a seventh inning comeback which propelled them to their MLB leading 34th win. The pivotal moment in the seventh came when Nats manager Jim Riggleman opted to bring lefty specialist Sean Burnett to face the Phillies trio of lefties Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez, who were hitting 3-4-5 today in an attempt to take advantage of righty starter Livan Hernandez.

After Placido Polanco singled in the top of the 7th, on came Burnett and the lefty failed to do his job to say the least. He walked Chase Utley to put runners on first and second. Then, he served up a single to Ryan Howard, which scored Polanco to tie the game. Raul Ibanez then put the Phils up for good with a sac fly to right. So the lefty Burnett was brought on to shut down the Phillies three big lefties and all three had productive at bats against him.

Antonio Bastardo and Jose Contreras handled the 8th inning and Ryan Madson struck out two in a clean ninth to earn his 12th save in as many tries.

Cliff Lee takes the hill against Jason Marquis tomorrow night

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