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Phillies Drop Opener To Nationals After Another Bad Blanton Start

Washington, DC (Sports Network) – Jayson Werth, facing his former team for the first time since signing a lucrative offseason contract with the Nationals, hit a solo home run, scored twice and a stole a base, as Washington downed Philadelphia, 7-4, to begin a three-game set.

“Was it extra special against those guys? (hitting a home run against his former team) Yeah, it was,” said Werth.

Werth left Philadelphia as a free agent after a stint that saw him help the Phillies win the World Series in 2008, signing a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals.

Wilson Ramos finished 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored and Laynce Nix had two hits with a run scored, all in support of the cagey veteran Livan Hernandez (1-1), who gave up just one run on seven hits with six strikeouts in 6 2/3 solid frames. The Nationals have won four of five overall.

Joe Blanton (0-1) was not as solid, giving up five runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and a walk over six frames. Blanton has a 10.45 earned run average after two starts. Ryan Howard hit a solo home run and Placido Polanco finished 2-for-5 with an RBI for the Phillies, who saw a brief two-game winning streak come to an end.

“He knows Joe,” Manuel theorized as the key to Werth’s success against his former teammate Blanton.

The Phillies didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard via the long ball, as Howard went with an outside fastball, driving it over the wall in left for a 1-0 lead.

Washington manufactured a game-tying tally in the home second. Ramos singled to right with one out and scampered to third on Nix’s single. Danny Espinosa’s sacrifice fly to center tied the game.

Ramos was at the heart of another positive frame for the home team in the fourth. Werth got his first hit against his old club, pulling a double down the left-field line. He scored when Ramos belted a two-bagger into the right- center field gap. Nix then beat out an infield hit despite a gallant effort on the grounder to second by Wilson Valdez. Espinosa walked to load the bases before Jerry Hairston singled home a run. The Nationals then rolled the dice with the pitcher, letting Hernandez attempt a safety squeeze, and the perfectly-placed punt allowed Nix to reach home for a 4-1 game.

Trailing 5-1, the Phillies put some pressure on Hernandez and chased him in the seventh. Raul Ibanez singled with one out and Carlos Ruiz followed suit with a base hit to right. Valdez then legged out a hit to load the bases, but Hernandez gave pinch-hitter John Mayberry a heavy dose of breaking pitches, striking him out on an off-the-plate slurve. Tyler Clippard then entered and struck out Shane Victorino with a high fastball to thwart the threat.

Washington mustered a two-out insurance run in the seventh when Antonio Bastardo issued a free pass to Ramos with the bases full for a 6-1 game.

The Phillies again put pressure on the Nationals bullpen in the eighth, scraping across a pair of runs. Ibanez grounded into a force out with the bases full to score one then Howard raced home on a wild pitch. Ruiz flied out to right with a runner at second to end the frame.

Washington never let the Phillies get too close, pushing a run across on Alex Cora’s RBI single in the home eighth to make the score 7-3.

Philadelphia pushed across one run in the ninth on Polanco’s RBI single, but Jimmy Rollins lined out to short with the tying run, Howard, on deck.

Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left abdominal strain today…Washington recalled catcher Jesus Flores from Triple-A Syracuse to fill Zimmerman’s roster spot. Nationals manager Jim Riggleman played with the lineup in Zimmerman’s absence, moving Werth to third from second and batting former Phillie Matt Stairs cleanup…The Phillies bullpen, which had thrown 19 1/3 straight scoreless frames, finally relented, as David Herndon gave up a run in the seventh.