Game in a nutshell: Who says Roy Halladay isn't still Roy Halladay? He sure looked like his old, Cy Young self tonight, cruising through the Nationals lineup with ease. His only blip: a two-run single surrendered to Steve Lombardozzi in the fifth, with Kurt Suzuki pulling off a nifty slide around catcher Erik Kratz to score the second run. Otherwise, Halladay was brilliant, out-dueling Gio Gonzalez, who gave up two runs in the first and then gave up the go-ahead run on John Mayberry Jr.'s leadoff homer in the sixth. Now trailing by a run, the Nationals couldn't muster anymore offense against Halladay or the Phillies bullpen, then gave up a costly insurance run in the eighth when Chase Utley was hit by a pitch, stole second and third bases and scored on Mayberry's sacrifice fly. Thus the Nationals lost their second straight 4-2 game in this ballpark and their third game in a row overall, seeing their lead over the Braves slip to 5 12 games in the process.
Hitting lowlight: They didn't have very many chances against Halladay, so the Nationals might have figured they'd have a better opportunity to score the tying (or go-ahead run) off the Phillies bullpen. They didn't. Left-hander Antonio Bastardo (who entered with a 5.35 ERA) struck out the side in the top of the eighth, getting Bryce Harper to whiff at a 90 mph high fastball, Ryan Zimmerman to swing and miss at a 93 mph outside fastball and Adam LaRoche to flail away at a 3-2 offspeed pitch. That seemed to sum up the Nationals' night at the plate. When they needed to get something going against a beatable pitcher, they couldn't even put the ball in play.
Pitching highlightlowlight: The way his night began, Gonzalez appeared to be in serious trouble. He gave up two runs in the top of the first, throwing 31 pitches and falling behind just about everyone. But to his credit, the left-hander battled his way back to a quality start. He found the strike zone with more regularity, made more Phillies swing and miss and kept his pitch count to a relative minimum. Then one costly mistake to open the sixth inning: a high fastball to Mayberry spoiled Gonzalez's night. That solo homer broke a 2-2 tie, put the Nats in a hole and prevented Gio from a shot at earning his league-leading 17th win of the season.
Key stat: Halladay threw 86 of his 105 pitches for strikes tonight, an 82 percent rate.
Up next: The series concludes Sunday afternoon when Jordan Zimmermann (coming off his worst start of the season) faces Cliff Lee at 1:35 p.m.