By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—When Washington Nationals pinch-hitter Chad Tracy hit a game-tying home run off closer Jonathan Papelbon in the top of the ninth inning, it was looking like it was going another night in which fans would be complaining about the Phillies shaky bullpen.
Instead, Papelbon, who blew his first save since last September, got the win.
Thanks to Domonic Brown’s walk-off RBI single off Nationals reliever Fernando Abad in the bottom of the ninth, the Phillies came away with a 5-4 win over Washington in front of a sell-out crowd of 44, 990 at Citizen’s Bank Park.
Brown, who has been struggling since his hot month of May, said he told Papelbon that the offense was going to take him off the hook in their half of the ninth.
“I told him that we’re going to fight for him and we ended up coming up with the win,” Brown said. “I was trying to stay short and quick especially with a tough lefty like Abad. “
The Phillies started that bottom of the ninth with a single to center by Ben Revere. After third baseman Michael Young flied out to center, shortstop Jimmy Rollins singled to left center while Revere went to third. Abad struckout pinch hitter Steven Lerud, but could not retire Brown, who drove home Revere with the winning run.
On the mound, the Phillies got a solid effort from left-handed starter John Lannan, who pitched pretty well considering that he just got off the disabled list. He pitched five innings and allowed just two runs on six hits.
Lannan also had four strikeouts with one walk and threw 92 pitches. After being on the disabled list since April, Lannan said he felt good about his performance.
“I wish I could have gone deeper in the ball game, but it was good for progress. In the fifth inning I felt pretty good,” Lannan said. “I got into some deep counts so it was really about pounding the strike zone and getting ahead of guys.”
The long ball finally returned to the bat of Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. His second inning solo-home run that tied the game at 1-1 was his first since May 29, a span of 17 games and 71 plate appearances. He also had an RBI single.
“He was staying on the ball and he was trying to put the fat part of the bat and hit it hard,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “His home run look it was little bit in home, he hit through it, got up an air and it went out.
“If Ryan hits for a high average, he hits .280 or .300, he’ll knock in a lot of runs and he’ll a lot of home runs, too.
Oddly enough, Howard, who has been bothered by arthritis in his left knee, has been hitting the ball well recently. In his last 10 games leading into Monday night’s game, Howard was 11-for-33 with a .333 average and four runs batted in. He also eight hits in his last 12 at-bats.
“It’s been a grind just to go out there and do what I can. I was able to get a couple of knocks tonight,” Howard said. “I’m trying to put together some good at-bats and just let the power comes as it comes and good get good pitches to hit. I was able to get one, elevate it and put a good swing on it.”
The Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single by Jayson Werth that scored second baseman Anthony Rendon. Howard’s home run in the second tied it.
Delmon Young’s RBI double that scored Rollins and Michael Young gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead in the third. The Nats would cut the deficit to 3-2 on a run-scoring double by left fielder Steve Lombardozzi in the fourth inning.
In the fifth, Howard’s RBI single that scored Revere gave the Phillies a 4-2 lead. The Nationals would score a run in the eighth. They tied it in the ninth with Tracy’s home run.