WASHINGTON - The Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies have labored mightily to score runs this season. When each was given the chance to break Friday's game open, the Phillies squandered their shot while the Nationals put together a big inning.
Leading the charge was bench stalwart Steve Lombardozzi, who racked up three hits, including a two-run double in the fifth inning as the Nationals pulled out a 5-2 victory over the Phillies in the teams' first meeting of the season.
Like most of the Nationals' hitters, Lombardozzi is off to a slow start. But with regular second baseman Danny Espinosa out of the lineup resting a broken bone in his right wrist, Lombardozzi got the starting nod and took advantage. His third hit of the night was his biggest, capping a four-run fifth inning with his double off Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick.
"I knew he had to come to me, so I'm looking for something I can drive," Lombardozzi said. "I was able to get that."
Kendrick (4-3) who had fallen behind in the count 2-0 to the Nationals' eighth-place hitter, lamented that he should have cut his losses.
"I should have just walked him," he said. "I ended up throwing a pitch right down the middle. I should have pitched around him and got the pitcher out, but I already walked four guys on the night and I didn't want to walk any more. I was tired of walking guys."
It was Washington's most productive frame since a four-run outburst in the third inning of an April 25 victory against Cincinnati. The rally was more than enough offense for Jordan Zimmermann (8-2), who grabbed the National League lead in wins and tied Tampa Bay's Matt Moore for the major-league lead despite a stiff neck and some difficult situations during his seven innings of work.
"Tonight I threw a lot of fastballs - with the wind blowing in, I wanted to let them put it in play," Zimmermann said.
In the fifth, after allowing a sacrifice fly by Erik Kratz to give Philadelphia a 2-1 lead, Zimmermann induced a bases-loaded double play from Ben Revere to prevent any more runs and set the stage for his offense to wake up.
"We were right there with them until we went back out on the field," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. "They shut us down from there. It was a good game up until that point."
The Nationals turned the game around in their half of the fifth. With Ryan Zimmerman on first after a fielder's choice, Adam LaRoche followed with his first triple of the year to tie the score at 2-2. Kurt Suzuki delivered an RBI single to give the Nationals a 3-2 advantage, and after a Tyler Moore infield hit, Lombardozzi drove the ball into the right-center gap to drive in two runs and break the game open.
"We just haven't been the kind of offensive club I know we're capable of being," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "Today was a big day, with Espinosa out, for Lombo to do what he did, and to score five runs, we've been kind of stuck on none or one or two. So that was big. Big shot in the arm for the offense."
Domonic Brown had two hits for the Phillies, who have averaged just 3.08 runs in 25 road games this season, the third-worst mark in the majors. Philadelphia failed to reach .500 for the first time since April 14.
"We've been up and down all year," Kendrick said. "We had a couple of runs there and I couldn't hold it."
On a frigid, blustery night that made any ball in the air an adventure, Phillies slugger Ryan Howard helped his team strike early with a deep drive to center off Zimmermann for a double in the second inning.
Brown followed with an RBI single to right to give the Phillies a 1-0 advantage.
Washington squared the game in the third thanks to a lapse of control by Kendrick, who issued three straight walks to load the bases with one out. Ian Desmond followed with a sacrifice fly in foul territory, scoring Bryce Harper from third to make it 1-1, but Kendrick was able to get out of the jam without further damage.
The Nationals had another scoring opportunity erased in the fourth when Tyler Moore was thrown out at the plate in a violent collision at the plate with Kratz after a Lombardozzi single to shallow center. Revere's throw easily beat Moore, and Kratz held on after Moore bowled him over.
Notes: Espinosa will miss the next two or three games as he attempts to heal a fractured bone in his right wrist suffered when he was hit by a pitch in mid-April. The Nationals announced after the game they have designated RHP Yuneska Maya for assignment and called up infielder Jeff Kobernus from Triple-A Syracuse. ... Philadelphia 2B Chase Utley, on the 15-day DL with a mild oblique strain, plans to stay with the team as he recovers. "We really won't know for another week or so how it's recovering," he said. ... Johnson said he wasn't going to shave until the Nationals started hitting better than their current .225 clip. "I figured I couldn't get any uglier, so what the heck," he said. ... Philadelphia recalled right-hander Michael Stutes from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Friday. Stutes missed most of the 2012 season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder. He pitched two hitless innings Friday.