Nats can't stop Phils from winning East
Washington tries to scratch out victory, but falls short vs. Philly
PHILADELPHIA -- After Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman hit into a double play to give the Phillies a 4-3 victory and their second consecutive National League East title on Saturday, several young players on Washington's roster decided to watch Philadelphia celebrate on the field.
Outfielder Roger Bernadina, right-hander Collin Balester, catcher Luke Montz and second baseman Emilio Bonifacio all wished they were in that same situation as the Phillies.
"I want to win and I want to come in and win every day," Bernadina said. "Whenever you see things like that, it makes you more excited to do well, too. It's something nice to see. I hope one day we can do that."
The Nationals have the worst record in the NL and they need a lot of pieces to catch up to the Phillies and Mets, according to Zimmerman.
"The Phillies and Mets are pretty good teams," Zimmerman said. "If you look up and down their lineup, look at their bullpen, the rotation and their payroll -- it's self explanatory. Besides the Rays, you can't go out there with eight 25-year-olds and compete against [the Phillies] like that. They are a good team with a bunch of talent. More importantly, they have guys that come through when it counts. That's why they get paid."
The Nationals didn't have eight 25-year-olds in their lineup on Saturday, but they gave another example of why they lost 101 games this year. They left nine runners on base and the pitching was up and down at best.
John Lannan pitched his final game of the season, and the left-hander had his struggles.
Lannan, who lasted five innings, had only one clean frame, which was in the first. But the Phillies were able to get to Lannan in the fourth. Both Pat Burrell and Carlos Ruiz delivered sacrifice flies. An inning later, Jayson Werth hit a solo home run over the right-field wall.
Lannan ended the season with a record of 9-15 and a 3.91 ERA, with 23 quality starts. Despite Lannan's uneven outing, manager Manny Acta came away believing that Lannan is one of the few pieces on the current roster who can help the Nationals win on a consistent basis in the future.
"We found the pitcher. I'm extremely happy and proud. This guy was pitching in [Class A] last year," Acta said. "He was basically our de facto No. 1 guy the whole season, if you want to call it that. I'm not calling him a No. 1 overall, but we found a middle of the rotation type of guy."
But don't tell Lannan that he's an established pitcher. He'll point to a true craftsman like veteran Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer.
"I think I have a while to go," Lannan said. "Look at how [Moyer] threw today. It's someone you want to be [like]."
The Nationals could not do much against Moyer, who allowed one run on six hits. The only time Washington touched home plate against Moyer was in the fifth inning, when Anderson Hernandez doubled home Bernadina.
The Nationals had other chances to score off Moyer. Their best opportunity came in the sixth inning. They had runners on first and second and no outs, but Elijah Dukes and Aaron Boone flied out to center fielder Shane Victorino, while Wil Nieves struck out to end the inning.
"Moyer uses everything he's got. He makes it work and that's what I try to do," Lannan said.
Little does Lannan know that Moyer feels that the young left-hander has a long career ahead of him.
"He's a younger kid, left-handed," Moyer said during the celebration. "When you are left-handed, you get all kinds of chances. As long as he keeps working at it, he is going to be a decent pitcher. He's only going to get better."
The Nationals made it close and almost snatched the victory away in the late innings. Washington made it a 3-2 game off reliever Ryan Madson in the top of the eighth inning, when Cristian Guzman came home on a sacrifice fly by Lastings Milledge.
But the Phillies were able to take a two-run run lead in the bottom of the eighth off Garrett Mock, who gave up an RBI double to Pedro Feliz.
In the ninth inning with closer Brad Lidge on the mound, the Nationals had the bases loaded, but they didn't come through in the clutch. Zimmerman came up and hit into a game-ending double play.
"We wasted an couple of opportunities early in the game, but at the end of the game, it was great to see the young kids like Bernadina and Hernandez in those type of situations come through," Acta said. "We were one hit, one break away."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.