The Philadelphia Phillies were due for a letdown on July 11. After the Phillies somehow swept the NL-leading Milwaukee Brewers on the road, it wouldn't be shocking if they were lifeless against the NL East leading Washington Nationals at home. But it seems the Phillies can even win in Philadelphia these days, at least while Jimmy Rollins is hitting home runs and A.J. Burnett pitches into the eighth inning.
The Phillies' 6-2 win was settled fairly quickly, after Burnett got out of jams in the first and second and Jordan Zimmerman gave up two runs each in the second and third. Yet the Nationals had even more reason to worry when Zimmerman came out of the game in the fourth, due to a cramp.
Zimmerman will have to miss the upcoming All-Star Game, as the Nationals hope he won't miss much actual action beyond that, despite his off night. Burnett had been far iffier this season with a 5-8 record, but after he got away with putting the leadoff man on in the first and second, he had it easy until Bryce Harper hit a rare home run in the seventh.
By then, the Phillies were already up by 5-0 and were coasting to their second five-game winning streak of the season. Even after Harper got his first home run since early April, Rollins responded with his second home run of the night. Adding onto his two-run blast to right field in the third, Rollins put on an exclamation point with a blast towards the exact same spot.
The Nationals finally chased Burnett out in the eighth with a run and got two men on, but new up and coming reliever Ken Giles contained their last, best chance. Giles then finished things in the ninth, as he and Burnett spared the Phillies from using Jonathan Papelbon and their unreliable middle relievers.
Philadelphia not only got a rare win at home, it won its fifth straight game against a first place team. Of course, Washington is now statistically tied with the Atlanta Braves, while Milwaukee is barely fighting off three teams for first in the NL Central. But since the Phillies are still in last place, they can't pass up wins against anyone.
The Nationals will try to get back in the win column in a pitcher's duel between Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels on July 12.