J.A. Happ had his back turned to the Phillies' dugout, so at first he didn't see Charlie Manuel ambling toward the mound after the lefthander had plunked Washington's Josh Willingham with a pitch for the second time.
The young lefthander was rubbing the baseball, preparing to proceed in the sixth inning tonight, when he noticed his manager was on the way, carrying a hook. Happ bobbed his head in frustration. He wanted to continue. He was doing fine.
But on a night when the Phillies learned they will have to intensify their search for a starting pitcher because Brett Myers probably will be gone for the remainder of the season, Happ's value has increased. Since he was making only his second start of the season after coming out of the bullpen, and his pitch count was at 96, Manuel was taking no chances.
So Happ was pulled in the Phillies' 5-4 win over Washington at Citizens Bank Park, but not until he raised a little hope that the pitching rotation may not be quite the mess it seems.
Although his pitching line of 51/3 innings, three runs and three hits wasn't dazzling, Happ's second start of the season was nearly as effective as his first at Yankee Stadium a week ago.
Meanwhile, Brad Lidge put aside his high-wire act with a perfect ninth inning for his 10th save, and Shane Victorino continued his white-hot hitting with four singles as the Phillies raked six Washington pitchers for 16 hits.
With crisp relief by Scott Eyre, Ryan Madson and Lidge, Happ improved to 3-0. Lidge struck out Cristian Guzman and Nick Johnson to end the game.
The Phils led, 5-1, and the Nationals had two on and one out when Chad Durbin relieved Happ. Reliable through most of the season, Durbin had allowed only two inherited runners to score. That number doubled when Josh Bard doubled and Anderson Hernandez singled. Jayson Werth muffed Hernandez's hit, allowing Bard to score an unearned run, and suddenly it was 5-4 with a tense finish awaiting. Two of the runs were charged to Happ.
Washington lefthander Ross Detwiler made his third start in the majors. With a 2.45 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .125 average, Detwiler had given Washington's beleaguered staff some encouragement. The Nats made the 23-year-old the No. 6 overall pick in the 2007 draft, and they hope he will become a pivotal part of their future.
But this was his first big-league start on the road, and the Phillies showed him no mercy as they slammed him around for five runs and 10 hits in the four innings he lasted.
Raul Ibanez broke a 1-1 tie by driving home Shane Victorino and Chase Utley with a lined single to right center during a three-run third inning, raising his league-leading RBI total to 46. Eighteen of his RBIs have come against Nationals pitching. Ibanez has become find of playing against Washington. He went into the game batting .514 (19 for 37) against the Nats.
The Phillies boosted their lead to 5-1 when Jimmy Rollins scored on a fielder's-choice grounder by Utley. Rollins had reached base with his second double of the night.