The Phillies wanted two contributions from Brett Myers tonight, which they hoped would come intertwined: a win, and length. But although the pitcher lasted six innings and 109 pitches, he was unable to achieve his primary goal, and the Phils saw a five-game winning streak end with a loss to Washington, 4-1, at Citizens Bank Park.
After Joe Blanton and Cole Hamels each lasted just 41/3 innings in their starts this week, the team's overtaxed bullpen required rest; its struggling rotation, buoyed by nine comeback wins, needed stabilization.
The Phils' only pitcher to last six innings or longer in each of his starts this season, Myers hoped to avoid the mistakes that led him to allow a major-league-leading eight home runs in his first 312/3 innings.
Tonight, Myers did not surrender a homer and gave the Phillies another decent start. But he allowed two more runs than Washington's lefthanded starter Scott Olsen, who succeeded against Philadelphia's lefty-heavy lineup.
Myers was effective and efficient early in the game, allowing one-out singles in the first and second innings. But after a double play and a runner caught stealing, respectively, he faced the minimum six batters in those innings.
Myers' smooth beginning encountered a bump in the top of the third, although the pitcher limited the damage. Washington's Anderson Hernandez doubled, and Myers walked three, including Olsen. The final walk came with the bases loaded to Ryan Zimmerman, scoring a run and allowing cleanup hitter Adam Dunn to bat with two out and the bases loaded. Dunn flied to center, but Myers had increased his pitch count to 40 by the end of the inning.
The righthander rebounded in the fourth, however, needing 14 pitches to retire the Nationals in order. In the fifth, he allowed only a two-out single, but the Nats broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth, after Zimmerman doubled, extending a team-record 18-game hitting streak. Elijah Dukes then singled to drive in a run, and the Nats led for the first time. They scored another run when Anderson Hernandez's two-out, two-strike single made the game 3-1.
Except for Shane Victorino's first-inning home run, the Phils' offense struggled against Olsen. Victorino inched his homer over the short left-field wall, advancing the once-slumping centerfielder's hitting streak to 10 games and giving the team an early lead.
But Olsen mixed a 90-m.p.h. sinking fastball with a high-70s slider, flummoxing many in the lefty-heavy Phils lineup. The pitcher utilized his slider to induce swinging strikeouts by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to end the first.
In the second, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez waved tentatively at two-strike fastballs; after Olsen walked Pedro Feliz, he fanned Chris Coste swinging on a fastball. Though the Phillies loaded the bases in the fourth, righty Jayson Werth's one-out single was the only solid base hit of the inning, and a Chris Coste groundout stranded the runners. The slumping Jimmy Rollins singled in the fifth, but he was caught stealing and the Phils did not score.
After Olsen allowed singles to Howard and Ibanez in the sixth, he was relieved by Garrett Mock, who retired Pedro Feliz to strand two more runners.