PHILADELPHIA -- If there is one team that has taught the Nationals they are not invincible, it's the Phillies. On Sunday afternoon, left-hander Cliff Lee was solid for seven innings as the Phillies defeated the Nationals, 4-1, at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies swept the three-game series, while the Nationals have lost four games in a row. After the media were allowed to enter the clubhouse, manager Davey Johnson was heard yelling at general manager Mike Rizzo, "You come down and manage the team."
The assembled reporters were then ordered to leave the clubhouse and were not allowed in for another 15 minutes.
"I had a discussion with my boss," Johnson said.
The game itself was enough to make Johnson angry. There were mental mistakes that cost the Nationals. They collected seven hits and had runners in scoring position three times against Lee in the game. Their best chances to score came in the fifth and seventh innings. In the fifth inning, Tyler Moore had a one-out double, but was left stranded after Jesus Flores and Steve Lombardozzi struck out.
The seventh inning turned out to be a strange one for Washington. After Jayson Werth led off with a single and advanced on an error by Lee, it looked like Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer over the right-field fence. But second-base umpire Phil Cuzzi ruled that the ball was still in play. Werth advanced to third, while LaRoche was thrown out between second and third. LaRoche thought Werth was going to score. LaRoche was going for a triple.
"I thought it was a home run off the bat," Lee said. "I thought it went into the stands. But the ball came flying back into the infield. I didn't really know what was going on, I thought it was a home run. It was definitely a break that went my way. I felt good about that."
Johnson asked for a review, the umpires watched the replay, and the play stood as called on the field.
"You take nothing for granted on this team," Johnson said. "My two veteran players took it for granted that the ball was out. ... That was kind of a mental mistake, because you could always review it. You never put yourself in a position with the ball still on the field, and two veteran players messed that up."
Both LaRoche and Werth acknowledged that they made a mistake.
"I screwed up," LaRoche said. "I should have stopped at second. I got a little confused coming around second. I looked up and I saw Jayson breaking for home, and then was going to get into third. He came back. It was just a cluster."
Said Werth, "I thought it was a home run. I was tagging on the play with nobody out, so I was focused on [Laynce] Nix's glove. ... I thought I saw the ball hitting the walkway above the fence. I had no indication it wasn't a homer until I was halfway home. For some reason, [third-base coach] Bo [Porter] was screaming about something. I look out and the ball was all the way home."
LaRoche was tagged out, and Werth was left standing at third base. He would later score on a double by Moore to make it a 4-1 game.
Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann started for Washington and was solid during the first four innings, but things started to unravel in the fifth. Lee helped himself with an RBI double, scoring Kevin Frandsen and giving Philadelphia a 1-0 lead.
Jimmy Rollins followed and hit a 3-1 pitch over the right-field wall for his 15th homer of the season. Zimmermann lasted five innings and allowed three runs on five hits.
"Nothing changed. I left a few balls up," Zimmermann said. "Cliff hit a double and Rollins hit a home run. I was trying to get in on him and left it over the middle [of the plate]."
An inning later, Tom Gorzelanny replaced Zimmermann and allowed a solo homer to Nix to make it a 4-0 game. Nix has always had problems hitting lefties, and Johnson was upset that Gorzelanny threw a slider to Nix.
"We hung a slider to Nixie. We did something that was not real good," Johnson said.
The Phillies have won five out of the last six games against the Nationals. Johnson gave the Phillies credit for playing tough. It also didn't help that the Nationals were playing without outfielder Michael Morse and shortstop Ian Desmond.
Morse hasn't played since Friday because of a bruised right hand, while Desmond hasn't played since Thursday after hurting his knee running the bases against the Braves.
"They have a good ballclub over here," Johnson said about the Phillies. "Lee pitched one heck of a game, threw a lot of changeups. It was a little different pitcher out there. ... He was a complete pitcher today. I thought he was outstanding.
"We are two players short. Minus two pretty good players, and they are not available. At times we played with one man down. Now we are playing two men down. They can't hit or do anything."
The Nationals hope to get their two players back by Tuesday against the Marlins, which would likely go a long way toward relieving some of the tension in the air.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.