The Phillies have played in four games that reached extra innings and they have lost all four of them, each time without using “closer” Jonathan Papelbon. The Nationals rallied in the 11th inning last night against Michael Schwimer in his third inning of work. With two outs and the bases loaded, Wilson Ramos hit a single to drive in the winning run. It wasn’t all bad, though. The Phillies were not completely dominated by Stephen Strasburg as both Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz hit home runs, accounting for the Phillies’ three runs. The Nationals’ bullpen shut them down for five innings after Strasburg left the game, however, holding the Phillies to three hits, striking out six and walking one.
Since the end of April, the Phillies have been straddling .500, reaching but never quite surpassing the barrier. With a win this afternoon against the Nationals, the Phillies can get back to .500 and move to within 3.5 games of first place. They will be relying on Vance Worley to outduel former Phillies farmhand Gio Gonzalez this afternoon. Manager Charlie Manuel has made one notable change to the lineup: Carlos Ruiz, who currently has the team HR and RBI lead and is 13 for his last 28, is hitting fifth in the lineup, something he has done only twice in his career (2006, 2008).