Nationals no match for Lee, fall to Phillies 4-2
The Washington Nationals hardly look like the team that ended the Philadelphia Phillies' five-year reign atop the NL East.
Cliff Lee struck out nine in eight impressive innings, Michael Young tied a career high with three doubles and the Phillies beat the Nationals 4-2 Tuesday night.
Lee (9-2) allowed two runs and five hits to win his fifth straight decision. The three-time All-Star lefty lowered his ERA to 2.53 and helped the Phillies move into a second-place tie with the defending division champs.
Both teams are seven games behind Atlanta. Nationals manager Davey Johnson isn't ready to panic.
"I'm an optimist," Johnson said. "It's a long season. We just have to right our ship. We'll figure things out."
Injuries have hurt Washington, which hasn't fielded its regular starting eight since April 14. Bryce Harper has missed the last 20 games, Danny Espinosa and three other players also are on the disabled list.
"When you have success like we did last year, it's hard to change things," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "We're not giving ourselves a chance to breathe."
Jayson Werth and Jeff Kobernus hit solo homers for Washington.
Ross Detwiler (2-5) took the loss in a game that started one hour, 10 minutes late because of rain. He allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings.
"Detwiler was matching Lee pitch for pitch until the sixth," Johnson said. "He was throwing the ball good."
The Phillies have won two in a row over the Nationals after returning from a 3-7 road trip that left them four games under .500.
Jonathan Papelbon worked the ninth for his 14th save a night after blowing his first of the season and then getting the win.
It was 1-all going into the bottom of the sixth before Ben Revere started it with a bunt single. Young then lined an RBI double down the right-field line to give the Phillies the lead. Jimmy Rollins followed with a single and Ryan Howard was hit by pitch to load the bases.
Detwiler struck out Domonic Brown and Delmon Young before Kevin Frandsen hit a two-run single to make it 4-1.
"You come up with two outs and the bases loaded, you have to get in a good count," Frandsen said. "I got it to 2-0 and got a pitch to hit."
Kobernus connected as a pinch-hitter in the eighth for his first career homer to cut it to 4-2.
Werth lined a shot out to left to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead in the fourth. A Nationals fan secured the ball in the stands and wouldn't throw it back on the field as Phillies fans have been doing since Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004. The fan drew some boos that weren't as loud as the ones Werth receives whenever the Nats visit.
Werth helped the Phillies win the 2008 World Series and hit 36 homers for them when they won the NL pennant in '09, but he left for a $126 million, seven-year deal after the 2011 season.
Michael Young hit a double to start the bottom of the fourth, advanced on Rollins' sacrifice and scored on Howard's sacrifice fly to tie it at 1.
"Looks like his bat is a little quicker," manager Charlie Manuel said of Young. "He' expects a lot out of himself and he wants to do more. He's starting to relax."
Lee nearly gave himself a lead in the fifth on a two-out single, but center fielder Denard Span threw out Delmon Young trying to score.
"I love playing behind Cliff," Michael Young said. "He loves to have the ball in his hands, he loves to compete and he can hit."
NOTES: The Nationals are 4-27 when scoring less than three runs. ... Kobernus' homer was Washington's third by a pinch-hitter. ... Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.40) goes for the Nationals against Kyle Kendrick (6-4, 3.76) on Wednesday night.
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