Roberto Hernandez strong during Phillies' 2-1 win over Nationals
WASHINGTON - The general manager's inability to find a home for several veteran players before Thursday's trade deadline meant the manager had to continue to muddle through the mess that was his overcrowded outfield.
Ruben Amaro Jr. couldn't find a new home for Marlon Byrd, so Ryne Sandberg had to start the most productive of his outfield bats.
But that still left four players for two spots: Domonic Brown, Ben Revere, Darin Ruf and Grady Sizemore.
Brown had a bit of a sore throat yesterday morning, giving Sandberg the only excuse he really needed to continue to roll out the hottest bats among that quartet. For the third straight game, Brown rode the bench while Revere and Sizemore filled the rest of the outfield.
All three of the outfielders contributed in a lightning-paced, 2-1 win over Washington.
While Roberto Hernandez steamrolled through the Nationals' lineup, Byrd hit a go-ahead home run, Revere hit safely in his seventh straight game and Sizemore reached base three times as the Phillies took their second straight over the Nationals.
"They're all playing well," Sandberg said of an outfield that failed to produce regularly in the season's first half. "Whether they're feeding off each other or whatever it might be, competing against each other, they're all playing well. So that's a good thing."
"It's probably been almost a tough call each day, trying to figure out who to play," said Sizemore, who went 2-for-3 with a double. "Everyone seems to be swinging the bats well. Hopefully I can continue to add to that and keep it up."
The Phils have won three of their last four games and six of their last nine.
Over that nine-game stretch, Byrd is batting .324 (12-for-37) with two home runs. He snapped a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning by launching a two-out home run, his 21st of the year, off Washington righthander Doug Fister.
"I think Ruben, he'll make sure he lets some [general managers] know every time I have a good game, 'You could have had that,' " Byrd said. "I'm sure my agents will do the same thing. It's just one of those things that right now I'm trying to win games for this team."
Sandberg, for one, is glad he can still write Byrd's name in his lineup each day.
"Absolutely," the manager said. "He's been one of our steady performers all year . . . I want to win games and make up lineups to win games. To have a guy like him here, it's good."
An inning before Byrd's blast, Revere tried to snap the tie first when he hit a one-out single to right. But Jayson Werth fired a perfect strike to home plate to nab Cody Asche. Revere finished the night 1-for-4; he's batting .383 (46-for-120) in his last 31 games.
Sizemore, meanwhile, is hitting .344 (22-for-64) in 17 games since joining the Phillies last month. He hit a two-out double in the second inning and later scored the game's first run on the first of Asche's two hits.
Sizemore, the 31-year-old, three-time All-Star who was released by Boston in June, entered Friday second on the Phillies in runs (nine) and OPS (.818) since joining the team. In 69 games this season, Sizemore has 21 extra-base hits in 272 plate appearances, a favorable comparison to Brown (23 extra-base hits in 351 plate appearances in 103 games).
"I think the more at-bats I get, the more comfortable I get," Sizemore said.
Although the Phillies' offense as a whole managed just two runs - they've scored two or fewer in 42 of their 111 games this season - Hernandez made it hold up. Hernandez held Washington to one unearned run on five hits in eight innings.
Hernandez struck out three, walked one, and saved his own life when a screaming line drive off the bat of Denard Span somehow found the pitcher's glove. He got lucky again when Anthony Rendon launched a ball to leftfield that found a resting place in Sizemore's glove up against the fence.
"Sometimes luck plays a factor, I think we got lucky with some balls hit right at guys - that'll happen," Sizemore said. "Hopefully we're on the winning end of that and not the other side."
Hard-hit balls aside, the former Fausto Carmona was at his best. He retired 10 straight and 17 of the last 18 hitters he faced, churning out eight innings in just over 2 hours.
"I was throwing strikes, keeping the ball down and trying not to overthrow," Hernandez said. "I am doing good when I do it like that."
"I've seen him do that many times," Sizemore said of Hernandez, his former Cleveland teammate. "He's a horse out there. He's got good movement and when he's on, he's tough to hit."
Hernandez has pitched eight innings twice in his last four starts; he has a 1.88 ERA in those four starts.
Although he needed only 94 pitches to get through eight, Hernandez was given the hook before being able to register his first complete game since July 30, 2013. Jonathan Papelbon flirted with disaster in the ninth, but still recorded his 26th save of the season.