Phillies struggle out of the gate, drop opener to Nationals in quiet fashion

Pivetta goes five but Phillies fall to Nationals
In front of a sold-out crowd on Fireworks Night, the Phillies lit a dud on Friday in a woeful performance that resulted in a 4-0 defeat by the Washington Nationals.

With the loss, the Phils now trail the Nats by a 1 1/2 games in the NL East --- for second place. The Braves also won on Friday night, pushing the Phils back to seven games off the pace from the division leader.

“It’s certainly not the way we wanted to start the second half,” manager Gabe Kapler said (see video). “I also recognize that it’s one game.”

Nick Pivetta tossed just five innings, surrendering three runs on 87 pitches. It's another disappointing performance in a string that dates back now to nearly a month. He's also never had an answer for the Nationals, now sporting a 10.06 ERA against the club over 10 career appearances.

“I’ve struggled against them a lot,” Pivetta told reporters. “But even though I gave up three runs, it’s a ton less than what I’ve given up this year so there are a lot of positives I can take away from that. It could have turned into a much worse baseball game.”



The Phillies' bats certainly didn't help Pivetta. The club mustered eight hits on the night, but left nine runners on base and finished 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

Stephen Strasburg was dominant on the hill for the Nationals, tossing six scoreless frames while striking out six and walking one. The bullpen combined to allow just one additional hit over the final three innings to preserve the win.

Maikel Franco collected three hits on the night for the Phils, raising his average to .234 on the season.

The two clubs resume their three-game set on Saturday night as Patrick Corbin squares off against Aaron Nola.
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BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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