Nationals 4, Phillies 3
WASHINGTON (AP)—If the Philadelphia Phillies fall a game short of making the playoffs, they might very well look back in anger at a home run that wasn’t.
Chase Utley’s shot down the right-field line that was ruled foul—but replays showed should have been called fair—was a key part of Philadelphia’s 4-3 loss to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night, though the Phillies had other reasons to be disappointed in themselves, too.
Philadelphia, trying to make the postseason for the first time since 1993, fell a game behind Los Angeles in the NL wild-card standings. The Dodgers beat Colorado 11-4.
With the Phillies leading the Nationals 2-0 in the second inning, Utley came up against Ramon Ortiz (11-15) with two runners on and two outs. Instead of a three-run homer, though, Utley wound up popping up to third base to end the inning.
“Somebody’s got to see it. And I want to tell you something—the … umpire has to see it, too. We play all year long and we’re trying to get somewhere and all we need is for somebody to miss a call like that,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “It’s terrible. It’s absolutely unreal. But at the same time … we could’ve scored more runs and we didn’t.”
The Phillies missed plenty of opportunities, leaving 10 runners on base, including one that represented the tying run with Ryan Howard up and two outs in the ninth. But closer Chad Cordero got Howard to fly out to center to end the game for his 29th save.
Before Cordero pitched to Howard, Nationals manager Frank Robinson came out for a mound visit (pitching coach Randy St. Claire is recovering from pneumonia).
“He said, ‘Just keep pounding him in,’ and that’s what I did,” Cordero said. “Usually when he does come out, he’s not very happy, but that wasn’t one of them.”
The Phillies wasted a solid outing by Brett Myers (12-7), who allowed three runs over seven innings.
And they allowed Washington’s NL Rookie of the Year candidate, Ryan Zimmerman, to go 3-for-4 and drive in three runs, backing Ortiz, who gave up two runs and 10 hits in six innings.
It was a hit Ortiz wasn’t charged with, Utley’s, that had Manuel steamed. More than half an hour after the game—Manuel had headed out of the ballpark— some Phillies were still hanging around watching slow-motion replays of Utley’s non-homer. The replays showed the ball bouncing off the foul pole, then hitting the top of the wall in foul territory.
“When you look at the replay in fast-motion, at regular speed, it’s kind of hard to tell,” Utley said. “When you slow it down, it’s easy to tell. Umpires make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. But we’ve got to put this behind us.”
Utley said he lost the ball in the lights. Neither Manuel nor anyone else from the Phillies argued the call at the time, because they couldn’t see that corner of the stadium well from the visiting dugout along the first-base line.
“We had people standing all over the bases. I looked up there and we had 10 hits, two runs—what the heck? I don’t feel like I should be standing here screaming about the umpire, but at the same time we had a three-run home run and it didn’t count,” Manuel said. “Go look at it: It hit the pole. It very obviously hit the pole.”
Two Nationals players said they heard the ball hit the foul pole.
A person who answered the door to the umpires’ dressing room but wouldn’t identify himself said the umpires “would have no comment today. It’s up to the crew chief.”
Zimmerman lifted his RBI total to 107 with a run-scoring groundout in the first and a two-run double in the third, both off Myers, who came in 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his previous six starts. But each of Myers’ last two losses have been to Washington.
“I’ve only got one thing to say: I lost us the game. I made one mistake on Zimmerman and lost the game for us,” Myers said.
Philadelphia left two runners on in four of the first five innings. They stranded another runner in the seventh, and the top of the eighth ended when pinch-runner Michael Bourn was thrown out trying to steal second.
The Nationals skipped batting practice because they didn’t get back to Washington until nearly 5 a.m. Tuesday after their chartered train from New York derailed. No one was injured. … Zimmerman’s double gave him 47 for the season, tying him for second-most by a rookie in major league history. Johnny Frederick of the 1929 Brooklyn Robins hit 52.