Published April 12, 2011
WASHINGTON – Jayson Werth tried hard not to show this performance against his old Phillies teammates meant anything special.
Werth homered and doubled to lead the Washington Nationals to a 7-4 win Tuesday night in his first appearance against Philadelphia since leaving as a free agent this winter.
When asked afterward about the significance of the game, at first he shrugged it off, calling it "business as usual." But a question about his home run led to a playful dig at his former manager, Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel.
"I was just trying to perform well for Charlie," Werth said with a smile. "He hasn't seen me play in a while."
Werth showed everyone he still has the offensive form that earned him a $126 million, seven-year contract with the Nationals this offseason after four years with Philadelphia. He doubled to lead off the fourth inning and later scored, starting a three-run inning that gave the Nationals the lead for good. His solo homer in the fifth gave Washington a 5-1 lead.
"Anytime you hit a home run you're going to have some satisfaction," Werth said. "Was it extra special against those guys? Probably a little bit."
Phillies fans made up a large percentage of the sparse crowd at Nationals Park, and they booed Werth each time he came to bat — or fielded a fly ball in right field.
Nationals closer Sean Burnett, sitting in Washington's right-field bullpen, heard those jeers clearly throughout the early innings.
"I haven't pulled so hard for a guy to hit a home run in my life," said Burnett, who pitched the final five outs for the save. "It was something the bullpen really wanted, because we had to listen to those fans out there."
Livan Hernandez (1-1) allowed one run on seven hits, struck out six and didn't walk a batter in 6 2-3 innings. He also picked up a sacrifice-bunt RBI as the Nationals won for the fourth time in five games.
"He just knows how to pitch," Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino said. "That's why he's been successful and why he's been doing it for so long."
Washington led 5-1 after five innings and 6-1 after seven, but Philadelphia didn't go down easily.
The Phillies loaded the bases with one out in both the seventh and eighth innings. In the seventh, Hernandez struck out pinch-hitter John Mayberry on a 62 mph curveball, and Clippard struck out Victorino to end the inning.
The Phillies were able to score two in the same scenario an inning later. Jimmy Rollins scored on a fielders-choice groundout by Raul Ibanez and Howard came home on a wild pitch by Burnett.
"It's the Phillies," Washington manager Jim Riggleman said. "You know they're going to battle you the whole way through. All night, it never felt like a widespread margin."
Philadelphia's Ryan Howard led off the second inning with a homer to left, his third of the season.
Joe Blanton (0-1) worked six innings, giving up five runs on seven hits for the Phillies. In two starts this season, Blanton has allowed 12 runs in 10 1-3 innings for a 10.45 ERA.
The Nationals tied the game 1-all in the bottom of the second on Danny Espinosa's sacrifice fly, then grabbed the lead in the fourth. Wilson Ramos doubled home Werth, and Washington loaded the bases on Laynce Nix's single and a walk to Danny Espinosa. Jerry Hairston Jr. singled home Ramos, and Hernandez followed with a surprise bases-loaded sacrifice bunt to score Nix.
Washington increased the lead to 6-1 in the seventh when reliever Antonio Bastardo issued a bases-loaded walk to Ramos.
NOTES: Washington put 3B Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day DL (strained abdominal muscle) and recalled C Jesus Flores from Triple-A Syracuse before the game. ... Nationals 1B Adam LaRoche (groin) and OF Michael Morse (flu-like symptoms) were held out of the starting lineup. Morse pinch-hit in the seventh inning and finished the game at first base. ... Before the game, Werth chatted with his old teammates in the tunnel behind the Phillies' dugout, near the indoor practice batting cages. "He looked the same to me," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. "Looked wealthier. I told him he had heavier pockets." ... Bastardo's walk to Ramos in the seventh marked the first run allowed by the Phillies' bullpen after 20 straight scoreless innings. ... Burnett gave up an RBI single to Placido Polanco in the ninth, ending a 22 2-3 innings scoreless streak, the longest for any Nationals reliever since the team moved to Washington in 2005.