Instant analysis: Phillies 9, Nats 3

Instant analysis: Phillies 9, Nats 3
May 7, 2012, 3:07 am
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Game in a nutshell: An emotional weekend series ended with emotions ramped up to even higher levels. It all started with Cole Hamels drilling Bryce Harper in the back with a first-inning, first-pitch fastball. How did Harper respond? By stealing home. How did Jordan Zimmermann respond? By plunking Hamels in the leg. The Phillies got the last laugh, though. Hunter Pence crushed a two-run homer off Zimmermann in the fourth, and Hamels cruised the rest of the night to deal the Nationals a tough loss in the series finale. Making matters even worse, Jayson Werth suffered an apparent serious left wrist injury trying to make a sliding catch in right field in the sixth. And that was before the entire game blew up during a torturous, six-run ninth inning for the Phillies.

Hitting highlight: What else can you say about Harper? The kid has both the physical gifts and the baseball instincts to do some incredibly special things on the field. He didn't just go 2-for-3 and reach another time on the hit-by-pitch. He single-handedly swiped four extra bases with his hustle, going first-to-third on a single, turning a little looper to left into a double and -- of course -- stealing home.

Pitching lowlight: Zimmermann was sharp early on and showed some intestinal fortitude in retaliating Hamels' plunking of Harper by drilling the Phillies pitcher in the leg. But he fell apart during the fourth inning, serving up a two-run homer to Pence and allowing three more hits. He also loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh, needing Craig Stammen to enter from the bullpen and bail him out. He still got credit for a quality start, but by Zimmermann's lofty standards, this was not a quality performance.

Key stat: Harper became only the second Nationals player to steal home (Ian Desmond did it last year on the back end of a double-steal) and the first teenager to steal home in a major-league game since the Angels' Ed Kirkpatrick in 1964.

Up next: After a much-needed day off, the Nationals open a six-game road trip Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche are both expected to return to the lineup for the 7:05 p.m. game at PNC Park.