Phillies 4, Nationals 2
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he didn't see the sign. He is aware of the sentiment.
During the third inning of what would be a 4-2 victory Thursday for Philadelphia over the Washington Nationals, four Phillies fans tried to tell general manager Pat Gillick how they feel about Manuel, unfurling a banner in the upper deck that read: "Hey Pat, Phire Charlie! Save Our Team!"
"That's all right. I've seen a few before. I'm sure I'll see a few more," Manuel said with a laugh. "In the last three years, I think I've lost quite a bit of hair. Philly has definitely taken that away from me."
He was able to joke around after a trying couple days in which he engaged a radio talk-show host in a heated exchange, decided to shift staff ace Brett Myers to the bullpen and had to sit Ryan Howard on Thursday because of a left leg injury that will probably sideline the NL MVP on Friday, too.
All that, plus Philadelphia entered this game a league-worst 3-10, meaning that although it's the third week of April, "Every game at this point is a must-win game for us," as Aaron Rowand put it.
"Just happy that we won a ballgame," Gordon said.
Tossing in the 60s and 70s mph -- and, only occasionally, in the low 80s -- Moyer allowed a single in the second, another in the third and nothing more until Ryan Zimmerman's double leading off the ninth.
"I think it was a fastball," Zimmerman said. "I don't know how fast it was."
Dmitri Young followed with an RBI double, and that was it for the 44-year-old Moyer, who threw 111 pitches and was charged with two runs and four hits over eight innings.
"He does it to everybody. That's why he's been around for so long," Washington manager Manny Acta said. "He's done it against experienced teams and young teams. He's a master of changing speed."
Gordon made things more interesting, hitting his first batter and then allowing a single to fill the bases with no outs. Pinch-hitter Robert Fick's sacrifice fly made it 4-2, but Gordon got Brian Schneider to ground out before catching Chris Snelling looking at an 0-2 curveball.
"Any time we get a win it feels good," Manuel said, "but today it felt great."
Gillick offered a tepid defense of his manager before the game, saying: "We've got basically the same guys we had at the end of the season ... so I don't see that much decline. ... He can't go up there and hit for them."
Ah, yes, the problems with runners in scoring position.
Those continued, as Philadelphia went 3-for-16 in such situations Thursday and 4-for-27 in the two-game series. The Phillies had a runner thrown out at the plate ending the fourth inning and stranded runners on third base in the fifth and sixth.
Washington was 3-for-23 with runners in scoring position against Philadelphia.
Unlike the Phillies, the Nationals weren't expected to contend, so Acta never felt any pressure during his club's 1-8 start. The team won four of its next six heading into Thursday, and even after a loss, Acta was upbeat.
"I love the way we're playing right now," he said. "The guys, they're giving all the effort they're supposed to."
Still, the pitcher who was the one sure member of the rotation heading to spring training, John Patterson, fell to 0-3 with a 7.00 ERA. He gave up a bloop double to Jimmy Rollins to open the game and then Shane Victorino's RBI single. Rowand's homer began the second, and Patterson left after allowing three runs over four-plus innings.
He said his right arm feels tight, sapping speed -- as much as 10 mph off his fastball.
"It's not even close," Patterson said. "I'm having to swallow a lot of pride right now."
"Velocity's nice, but don't talk to me about velocity," Acta said. "Jamie Moyer was throwing today below the hitting speed and got us out for eight innings."
Washington is the first NL team to go through the first 16 games of a season without scoring in the first inning since the 1979 St. Louis Cardinals did it for the opening 17 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Phillies right-hander Jon Lieber is to make his first start of the season Friday at Cincinnati.
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