Phillies blanked by Nationals, 6-0
WASHINGTON - An announced crowd of 32,355 showed up to Nationals Park yesterday for the finale of a series featuring two teams that were heated rivals contending for division supremacy just 15 months earlier.
The Phillies and Nationals are not contending teams in 2013. Both entered the season's final 7 weeks with losing records.
But in rolling to a relatively easy three-game sweep of their NL East foes to the north, Washington continued to look like a team with a promising future while the Phillies looked like a dead team walking.
Former Phillie Jayson Werth ripped off his second straight three-hit game and Stephen Strasburg dominated the Phils bats en route to his first career complete-game shutout in 6-0 Washington win.
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"He was good, he was very good," manager Charlie Manuel said of Strasburg, who dispatched the Phils in order in each of his last two innings.
The Phillies, meanwhile, were not very good. And for the last 3 weeks, they've been downright dreadful. Yesterday's loss was the 17th for the Phillies in the 20 games they've played since the All-Star break.
"It's been tough - the toughest since I've been managing in the major leagues," Manuel said. "I don't know what you want to do about it. You got to come out here and play tomorrow. That's all you can do."
"It's not fun," Jimmy Rollins said. "Some games we're losing by getting outplayed, some games we're not making the right plays, not making the pitches, not getting the hits. That makes it very tough."
It's almost a foregone conclusion that the 2013 season will finish with the Phillies (52-65) having a losing record for the first time since 2002 - Rollins' second full season in the big leagues. Rollins made his debut 2 years earlier as a September callup on a Phillies team that lost 97 games.
"It was just a whirlwind, a joy to be up [in the major leagues]," Rollins said of his short time with that team. "The next year [Larry] Bowa was the manager and we started pretty good. We always found a way to fight, a way to scratch out a win. Why that isn't happening? I don't know. You can't put a finger on it.
"There's a different crop of guys, a different talent level, but they're here because the management feels they have what it takes to win, it's just a matter of getting them to believe it, and putting up some wins. And when that happens, they will start to believe it."
Two days after former National John Lannan got whacked in his Washington homecoming, Kyle Kendrick was the recipient of a pretty bad beating. Kendrick left before he could complete five innings and after he yielded a season high-tying 11 hits, all singles.
"Kyle gave up 11 hits, but those hits, if you look in that one inning there in the fifth, he really had kind of a weird inning," Manuel said of an inning that included a throwing error by Chase Utley that allowed two runs to score. "It wasn't like they were killing him . . . [But] they put up some runs up him."
Werth collected three of those 11 hits, including a base hit that opened up a three-run fifth inning. Werth is hitting .443 (47-for-106) in 33 games since Independence Day.
Kendrick, meanwhile, has taken a turn in the other direction. He has allowed four earned runs or more in six of his last eight starts; he has a 7.07 ERA in that span. But Kendrick's struggles go back beyond the last 6 weeks. Since May 18, Kendrick is 6-8 with a 5.65 ERA in 16 starts.
"I haven't been giving us a chance to win lately," said Kendrick (10-9).
Meanwhile Strasburg (6-9) needed just nine pitches in the ninth inning to complete the shutout. He held the Phillies to four hits while walking one and striking out 10. He retired the last seven batters he faced on 22 pitches.
"He was his normal self," Rollins said.
So were the free-falling Phillies.
Roy Halladay threw a five-inning simulated game on Saturday at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater, Fla., and came away encouraged with the latest step in his rehab. It was the first time Halladay had faced hitters since undergoing shoulder surgery in May.
"He feels great," pitching coach Rich Dubee said after speaking with Halladay.
Halladay, 36, will likely begin an official minor league rehab assignment soon. He's likely to throw a regular in-between starts bullpen session today.
Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley started their 1,036th game together as a doubleplay combo. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the second most among active teammates, behind the Yankees All-Star infield combo of Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano (1,041 games). With Jeter on the DL, Rollins and Utley could pass the Yankees infielders this week . . . Charlie Manuel remains one win away from his 1,000th career managerial win.
On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21