Nationals 4, Phillies 3 11 innings
Game in a nutshell: In an emotionally charged ballpark tilted more in the Nationals' favor than usual when these two rivals meet, Stephen Strasburg got off to a dominant start but then did the unthinkable and served up home runs to both Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz. Strasburg's teammates picked him, pushing across a run in the sixth and another in the eighth. But countless squandered opportunities (and some questionable umpiring) prevented them from taking the lead and sent this one to extra innings. Finally, Wilson Ramos (the last man off the bench) lined a bases-loaded single over shortstop Jimmy Rollins' head, bringing Steve Lombardozzi home and sending the crowd into pandemonium.
Hitting lowlight: It's not that the Nationals didn't put men on base. They racked up 13 hits, walked seven times and had one batter hit by pitch. But they simply could not come through in clutch situations ... until the 11th. The worst offense came in the bottom of the eighth, when they stranded the bases loaded with one out. Ian Desmond swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded into a fielder's choice (though replays showed Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz's foot wasn't touching the plate as Rick Ankiel slid across). Lombardozzi then grounded out, also on the first pitch he saw. Poor approaches there for both guys in a situation that demanded patience and pitch selection.
Pitching lowlight: Strasburg was lights-out for three innings, allowing only one batter to reach base (on an error). Then after doubling and having to run the bases, he began to labor. Five Phillies hitters from the fourth through the sixth innings drilled flyballs, most of them deep, two of them clearing the fence. It was by no means a terrible outing for Strasburg (who still got credit for a quality start). But by his lofty standards, it was not up to par.
Key stat: Prior to tonight, Strasburg had given up only one home run to a right-handed batter in his big-league career (Dan Uggla, Aug. 10, 2010). Then he gave up homers to two right-handed Phillies in a span of four batters (Pence and Ruiz).
Up next: In what is expected to be the best-drawing game of the weekend, Gio Gonzalez takes on Vance Worley at 1:05 p.m. Saturday.