WASHINGTON (AP)—A sore back sent Philadelphia’s pinch-hit specialist Greg Dobbs to the batting cage early in Tuesday’s game. He wanted to make sure he kept the blood flowing and didn’t tighten up.
When he was finally called on in the ninth inning of the scoreless game, he didn’t feel any soreness at all.
“I pretty much didn’t feel anything—except the adrenaline and my heart pumping,” Dobbs said.
It was Dobbs’ league-leading 10th pinch hit and ninth RBI in 22 at-bats this season.
Dobbs said he knew the ball was going to drop for a hit as soon as it left his bat. He was just waiting for Bruntlett to start heading home, but Bruntlett stayed on third base until the ball hit the ground to be sure he could head home.
“I was watching Bruntlett out of the corner of my eye,” Dobbs said. “He can run, so there’s no reason to cheat off the bag. I was like, ‘You’re going to score, right? Yeah, you’re going to score.’ It was a relief.”
Dobbs nearly gave the Phillies an insurance run as well. He attempted to score from first on Shane Victorino’s double, but was thrown out at the plate to end the ninth inning.
Dobbs’ hit kept Philadelphia from being shut out in consecutive games for the first time since Sept. 11-12, 1999, and kept the Phillies from their first four-game losing streak since Aug. 22-25, 2007.
Jon Rauch (2-1) gave up Dobbs’ hit, ending his 12-inning scoreless streak.
Hamels gave up four hits, walked two and struck out 11—tying a season high. It was the eighth time in nine starts Hamels had lasted at least seven innings. Hamels has not allowed a run in 19 innings.
“He might get Hershiser’s record,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said, referring to Orel Hershiser’s 1988 record of 59 scoreless innings.
Hamels laughed at the suggestion he could make a run at the 20-year-old record and pointed out his propensity to give up the occasional home run, a consequence of throwing balls over the plate.
“With the tremendous fielding that we have, I’m out there throwing strikes wanting them to hit the ball,” Hamels said. “That way I can get in and out of an inning pretty quick.”
As good as Hamels was, Bergmann matched him inning for inning. Bergmann allowed five hits and struck out five before being removed for a pinch-hitter. Only once did the Phillies advance to third base against him—Philadelphia loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh before Bergmann got Victorino to line out to center field, ending the threat.
It was Bergmann’s second-straight seven-inning outing since returning to the Nationals after a stint in the minors.
Bergmann had been sent to Triple-A Columbus after posting a 10.45 ERA and 0-1 record in two April starts. Since being recalled on May 14, Bergmann earned his first win of the season in a 1-0 game at New York on May 15 and had another strong outing Tuesday.
“We’re in a good position to win these games—that’s the best feeling right there,” Bergmann said. “We’ve been in some games this year that we had no chance—and most of it has been my fault, so it’s good to turn that around a little bit.”
The Nationals had some chances in the late innings. Washington left two runners on base in each of the final three innings, including runners on first and third in the ninth.
“We had men on third with less than two out,” Washington manager Manny Acta said. “And we couldn’t score them, and they did.”
The Phillies scored thanks to yet another big pinch hit from Dobbs. Although his .455 pinch-hit average makes it seem easy, he doesn’t think he has a secret to pinch-hitting success.
“It’s not easy, it’s not,” Dobbs said. “I don’t care how many hits I have, or how many RBIs. Every at-bat is a battle.”
Lidge has allowed just one earned run in 20 innings for an ERA of 0.45. …Washington OF Austin Kearns sat out his third straight game with an elbow injury. He’s in a 2-for-33 slump. … Washington’s batters struck out 13 times, a season high. … Philadelphia 2B Chase Utley had a double. He’s reached base in 43 of 47 games.