It wasn't pretty, but the Phillies registered their fourth win over host Washington in less than 48 hours Sunday afternoon, improving their major league-best road record to 12-4 with another comeback special against a Nationals bullpen that probably merits disaster assistance from FEMA.
The club overcame an unwelcome return to form from starter Chan Ho Park, who followed two strong starts with a five-run, five-hit, four-walk disaster in just 1.1 innings. But with the Phils down 5-3 and Jack Taschner on in relief of Park, they escaped from a bases-loaded, one-out jam when Josh Willingham's screaming line drive found Pedro Feliz's glove and Adam Dunn was doubled off second base. Two innings later, the Phils tied it off Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann, who showed three good pitches but no ability to consistently command any of them. With two outs and Feliz on second, Jimmy Rollins singled to drive him in, stole second base, and scored on Chase Utley's double.
The game remained deadlocked at 5 until Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly in the 6th off Chad Durbin scored Cristian Guzman. Ancient lefty reliever Ron Villone held the Phils off the board for two innings, but Julian Tavarez faltered in the 8th: Jayson Werth led off with a single and Shane Victorino walked before Jesus Colome came on to face Feliz. Just a few days after his four-walk shocker, Feliz showed another heretofore-unappreciated skill set, laying down a perfect bunt along the third base line. Colome picked up the ball and fired to first bas--and threw the ball down the right-field line for a two-base error, as both runners scored and Feliz wound up at third. He came in on Eric Bruntlett's pinch-double to put the Phils ahead 8-6.
The Phils' bullpen did the rest. Rookie Sergio Escalona made his major-league debut in the 7th, allowing one hit and striking out one to earn the win. Scott Eyre pitched an inning and a third before walking Willie Harris with one out in the ninth and giving way to Brad Lidge. But the struggling closer picked up his second save in as many days with just two pitches, the second of which Willingham grounded into a game-ending double play.
All told, the bullpen worked 7.2 innings in Sunday's game, holding Washington to four hits and a run while striking out seven. Rollins, Werth and Feliz each had two hits for the Phils as they pulled back within a game of the NL East lead.