Posted by Kevin Durso
For Roy Oswalt, it had been a long time coming. June 12th was the last time he had taken the mound at Citizens Bank Park. It was also the last time he picked up a win. Tonight, he was able to take a step in the right direction, and threw a gem in his second start since returning from the DL, as the Phillies used some Nationals' errors to their advantage.
The Phillies used the first Nationals' error from the start. Jimmy Rollins reached on a fielding error by Danny Espinosa. Two batters later, Ryan Howard drilled his 26th homer of the season to left, a two-run shot, giving the Phillies the lead.
Oswalt did not turn in the shutdown inning to follow. Mike Morse was back in the Nationals' lineup, and led off the inning with a double. He scored on an RBI double by Laynce Nix. Nix was brought home by Ian Desmond, which tied the game.
The Phillies had a huge answer in the third. Shane Victorino reached on a fielding error by Desmond to lead off the inning. Chase Utley singled to follow. That brought Howard to the plate. He didn't deliver the way he did the first time up, but he did get the Phillies the lead back, lacing an RBI single to right. After Hunter Pence walked, Raul Ibanez brought a run in with an RBI groundout. That moved the runners up, and the Nationals elected to intentionally walk Carlos Ruiz. That plan worked at first, as a tough play by Lannan worked out for the Nats, as they got Howard at home plate on a slow chopper. Roy Oswalt was up next, and the Nationals could have easily seen their way out of a huge inning. But, Lannan walked Oswalt, bringing home another run. Rollins followed with an infield single, and as Espinosa lost his balance trying to hold the second base bag on a fielder's choice, Wilson Valdez, who reached on a fielder's choice earlier, came racing around from second to score. That capped the five-run inning, and ended John Lannan's night. Lannan hadn't pitched all that bad, allowing just one earned run, but the Phillies had a 7-2 lead after three innings.
The Nationals got one of the runs back in the sixth, as Mike Morse brought home a run on a single.
Still, it was the Nationals giving runs away to the Phillies. With one out, Jimmy Rollins struck out swinging, but the third strike got away from Wilson Ramos, and Rollins reached. That led to more problems, as a single by Victorino, and a force attempt error on a grounder by Utley loaded the bases for Howard. He added to his RBI total by rolling into a force play, and beating out the double play attempt.
That was plenty for Roy Oswalt, who allowed just three runs over seven solid innings. He allowed six hits, one walk, and struck out five.
The Phillies just piled on in the eighth. Hunter Pence didn't have a hit in this game when he came up in the eighth. He got one there, and it brought home a run. Raul Ibanez followed with a sac fly. Carlos Ruiz would drive in a run as well, capping a three-run eighth.
Mike Stutes had thrown a perfect eighth before that, and stayed in for the ninth to finish off a rout, as the Phillies crushed the Nationals, 11-3.
This was a solid bounce back game for the Phillies, who really couldn't get anything going at the plate in last night's loss. Tonight, they caught a few breaks, but several Phillies had strong nights. Ryan Howard went 2-for-4, blasting his 26th home run of the season, and driving in four. He now has the Major-League lead with 95 for the season. Shane Victorino also went 2-for-4 and scored two runs. Raul Ibanez was the only Phillie in the lineup without a hit, but he did drive in two. And finally, Hunter Pence, who finally got a hit in the eighth, continued his run of hitting. Since being traded to the Phillies, he has a hit in every game the Phillies have won. His two hitless games have both been losses. Tonight, it didn't seem to matter. His two walks were key parts of the early innings, and the Phillies had done enough to win by the time Pence picked up his RBI single.
But perhaps the more important part of the night was getting Roy Oswalt back in the win column. He picked up his first win since June 12th, and pitched a beauty against the Nats. Oswalt's start in San Francisco wasn't terrible, but his command wasn't great, and he got lit up for 12 hits. Tonight, he kept the Nats off the board and off the bases, and that went a long way as the Phillies piled on. Being able to get solid starts out of him could be huge down the stretch, and if he can stay healthy for the Postseason, the Phillies four aces could be back in action again very soon.
The Phillies go for the series win tomorrow afternoon. Roy Halladay gets the start against Chien-Ming Wang.