PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Washington Nationals are starting to
play the way they did the first half of last season, when they were
in first place.
"Some good things are starting to happen," manager Frank
The Nationals led the NL East with a 50-31 record last July in
their first season in Washington after moving from Montreal. But
they went 31-50 the rest of the way and finished in last place.
Pat Burrell hit a two-run shot for the Phillies, who lost for
the sixth time in seven games at home this season.
Armas (1-2) allowed three runs and seven hits. Church broke it
open with a two-out slam in the ninth off Geoff Geary.
Philadelphia's bullpen allowed six runs in two innings after
pitching poorly on the road.
"In order for us to win, our bullpen has to get better,"
manager Charlie Manuel said.
Burrell cut the deficit to 4-3 with a two-run drive deep into
the left-center field seats in the fourth, but the Phillies didn't
Zimmerman's RBI double off Arthur Rhodes put Washington ahead
5-3 in the eighth. Rhodes then hit Schneider on an 0-2 pitch with
the bases loaded to force in another run.
"It's really a matter of approach, getting my pitch and laying
off the tough ones," said Zimmerman, who came in hitting just .204
with six RBI.
Lidle (1-2) gave up four runs and nine hits in seven innings.
The Phillies were hoping to start their 10-game homestand on a
winning note after returning from a 4-2 trip. Instead, the offense
struggled again. Philadelphia has averaged 3.4 runs at home and 5.7
on the road.
"We're not getting it done with runners on," Lidle said. "We
have the talent. We need to do something to come around quicker
rather than later."
Ward lined Lidle's first pitch of the second inning into the
right-field seats to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead.
The Phillies wasted an opportunity in the first after Rollins
started with a walk and Aaron Rowand followed with a liner down the
left-field line. Rollins inexplicably was waved around third base
by coach Bill Dancy and was easily thrown out at the plate on
shortstop Royce Clayton's relay from left fielder Alfonso Soriano.
Bobby Abreu struck out, and Burrell fouled out to end the inning.
"It was a judgment play. I know Dancy didn't want to get the
guy thrown out," Manuel said. "We definitely should've overcome
Abreu, a surprise Gold Glove Award winner last season, was
booed after turning the wrong way on Church's double in the fourth.
He received a mock standing ovation after catching a routine fly
later in the game. ... After Ward homered, Zimmerman hit a
broken-bat fly ball that sent Burrell to the left-field wall. It
would've been a homer last year, when the wall was 5 feet closer.
... Burrell was 2-for-19 against Armas before he homered. ... It
was the 300th victory over the Phillies for the Nationals/Montreal
Expos. ... Church's slam was his first. ... Robinson has 999 wins
as a manager.