Phillies sneak past Nats in eighth
Three-run frame gives Washington third straight loss
PHILADELPHIA -- Jason Bergmann gave the Nationals one of their best pitching performances of the season.
Unfortunately, the Nats couldn't muster quite enough offense and dropped their third straight game, 6-3, against the Phillies before a crowd of 24,745 on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Bergmann was outstanding for six innings, giving up only three hits and one earned run while throwing a season-low 87 pitches. But Bergmann was not feeling well all day and wasn't sure how much longer he could go beyond six innings.
"They asked me how I felt and I told them how I felt," Bergmann said. "I didn't feel good all day. I had a sick bug. I was getting dizzy out there. You've got to pitch through that. It's an obstacle. I was more than willing to go back out there. It's the manager's decision."
Nationals manager Manny Acta was thrilled with Bergmann's start.
"Terrific outing," Acta said. "He did a great job for us. We thought in that [sixth] inning, he was starting to lose it. We tried to take him out on a positive note."
Acta saw nothing but positives for Bergmann.
"If he stays nice and calm with the stuff that he has, he's going to give us a chance," Acta said.
On this night, the Nationals had plenty of chances.
"Baseball is like boxing," Acta said. "If you don't hit the other guy, they're going to hit you. We had our chances. We should have gone into that [sixth] inning up by two more runs instead of just one. Everyone knows in order for us to play like I want us to, we've got to play perfect or close to perfect."
With runners on first and second and one out in the eighth inning, Jon Rauch gave up the game-winning single to Wes Helms. Rauch had a favorable 0-2 count, but Helms battled back to lift an RBI single to center, scoring Chase Utley. Center fielder Ryan Church committed a throwing error on the play, allowing Pat Burrell to come home for a 5-3 lead.
It looked good for the Nationals in the early innings. They jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second when Church doubled to right field, scoring Austin Kearns.
After the Phillies tied the game at 1, the Nationals went ahead again, 2-1, in the third on an RBI double by Ronnie Belliard, which scored Felipe Lopez.
Washington added another run in the sixth on an RBI single by Brian Schneider, scoring Kearns.
The Nationals' 3-2 lead quickly dissipated in the seventh when Aaron Rowand deposited a 1-0 pitch from Saul Rivera into the left-field seats for his third home run of the season, tying the score at 3.
The Nationals bullpen -- Rivera, Micah Bowie and Rauch -- gave up four hits and three earned runs. Bowie took the loss and fell to 0-1.
"I'm not going to blame the bullpen," Acta said. "You've got to score runs to win, especially in this ballpark. We have back-to-back innings with guys on second base and no outs and we couldn't push them across the plate. We need to score runs in this ballpark to win."
Despite allowing a two-run lead to disappear, how is the morale of the team?
"Preach and teach," Acta said. "You've got to keep on doing it."
If you play for Acta, you're going to play hard. Even with the losses piling up, the Nationals will continue to compete every single day.
That you can expect.
"We're going to hustle and bring it in every game," said Schneider. "We do a lot of things well but we have to put it all together."
Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.