Game in a nutshell: The Phillies don't have much left to play for except pride, but they showed plenty of that in the opener of this three-game series before a crowd of 42,096 that barely made a peep all night. Veterans Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins drove in three early runs off Edwin Jackson, putting the Nationals in a 3-0 hole. They couldn't make a dent into Kyle Kendrick for most of the evening until Tyler Moore came off the bench in the seventh to drill a two-run homer and knock the right-hander from the game. The Nationals had chances to push across the tying run against a smorgasbord of Philadelphia relievers but couldn't deliver the big hit when they needed it. Perhaps it would have been a different story had they not lost cleanup hitter Michael Morse to a right hand injury (he was struck by a Kendrick fastball in the top of the first) that looked serious but was initially diagnosed as only a contusion.
Hitting lowlight: Remember when Adam LaRoche couldn't be contained inside the ballpark? That was only two weeks ago, but it feels much longer. LaRoche is now hitting .164 with zero homers over his last 17 games. Worse, he's failing to deliver in clutch spots the way he had been earlier in the season. He went 0-for-4 tonight, each time failing to advance a runner that was in scoring position when he came up to bat. If Morse winds up having to miss any time with his hand injury, LaRoche is going to have to step up and produce the way he has through most of the year.
Pitching highlightlowlight: On one hand, Jackson really labored through his outing. He gave up seven hits and two walks, racking up 107 pitches in only six innings, and seemed to be trying to pitch his way out of trouble just about the entire night. On the other hand, the right-hander emerged having allowed only three runs. He was perhaps helped by a few well-struck balls that happened to be hit directly at his teammates. But he also made a few big pitches when he really needed to, especially when he struck out Ryan Howard and got Domonic Brown to ground into a double play to end a potentially disastrous first inning. Jackson expects more of himself, and the Nationals could have used more tonight, but give him credit for at least keeping this thing within reach and giving his teammates a chance.
Key stat: Jackson's ERA in the first inning this season is 7.50. His ERA in every other inning is 3.62.
Up next: The series continues tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. when Gio Gonzalez seeks his league-leading 17th win against two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay.