WASHINGTON (AP) —The Washington Nationals didn’t have a close shave, and neither did Davey Johnson.
The 70-year-old manager still looked closer to 80 after the Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 Friday night, sporting the scraggly beginnings of facial hair he had vowed to keep until his team started hitting.
Five runs weren’t enough, even though it was the most the Nationals had scored in a week. There was also a four-run fifth, the first time Washington had put up four or more in an inning in almost a month.
Johnson said he told a couple of his players: “It’s getting close to coming off.”
Their response: “They said it can’t come off yet,”
“My wife, she probably wants me to take it off, I’m sure she does,” Johnson said. “But I might leave it on, see if this is not something strange happening here.”
The outburst of hitting provided the rare gift of a cushion for Jordan Zimmermann, who became the National League’s first eight-game winner as Washington followed a calamitous road trip with a winning start to a homestand.
Zimmermann (8-2), pitching with a stiff neck that limited his control of his fastball, allowed two runs and six hits with no walks over seven innings — actually raising his ERA to 1.71 — on an unseasonably chilly and windy night in the nation’s capital.
“I kind of cut him a little shorter than I normally would,” Johnson said. “He still threw a heck of a ball game.”
There was at least a bit of heat from the Nationals’ lineup, which entered the game hitting .225, second worst in the majors. Washington had just completed a 10-game West Coast road trip that included a four-game losing streak, the team’s sixth shutout loss of the season, Bryce Harper’s head-first collision with a wall and a broken hand for Ryan Mattheus after he punched his locker following a rough outing.
Then Johnson arrived at the ballpark Friday saying: “I decided I wouldn’t shave until we started hitting.”
If Johnson does pull out the razor, Steve Lombardozzi should get due credit. Playing second while Danny Espinosa recovers from a broken wrist, Lombardozzi had three hits, including a two-out, two-run double that capped the rally in the four-run fifth.
“We score on pass balls, groundballs or short fly balls,” Johnson said. “We haven’t been getting base hits. To score five runs, we’ve been kind of stuck on none or one or two, so that was a big shot in the arm.”
Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick (4-3) had his shortest outing of the season, allowing five runs and eight hits over five innings. He walked four for the second consecutive start, including three consecutive bases on balls that allowed the Nationals to score a run in the second with a sacrifice fly and no hits.
“Command was bad, threw a lot of balls, didn’t get ahead in the count,” Kendrick said. “Another one of those nights where it was 2-0, just behind the count, and I threw a lot of pitches.”
The Phillies missed a chance to pull even in two ways. A win would have put them at .500 for the first time since April 14, and it also would have tied them with the Nationals, who had lost four of five and have been mired in mediocrity while dealing with the expectations of Johnson’s preseason proclamation of “World Series or bust.”
“Obviously, we’ve kind of been up and down all year,” Kendrick said. “We had a chance to get it back tonight. Had a couple runs there and I couldn’t hold it.”
Notes: Rafael Soriano picked up his 14th save. ... Washington’s last four-run inning came April 25 against the Cincinnati Reds. ... Headgear on both players when flying when Tyler Moore crashed into Kratz while trying to score on Lombardozzi’s single in the fourth inning. Kratz held on to the ball, and Moore was out. ... Both teams are missing star power. The Phillies don’t have Roy Halladay (shoulder surgery) and Chase Utley (oblique strain), while the Nationals are making do without Jayson Werth (hamstring) and Espinosa, who learned Friday that he’s been playing with a slight fracture in his right wrist and will need a few days of rest, if not more. ... The Nationals plan to bring up INF-OF Jeff Kobernus from Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday and will likely designate RHP Yunesky Maya for assignment. ... Philadelphia recalled INF-OF Michael Martinez and RHP Michael Stutes to replace Utley (disabled list) and RHP Phillippe Aumont (optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley). ... Phillies RHP Mike Adams (right back strain) felt fine after a second rehab bullpen session Friday and is expected to be reactivated Sunday. ... Washington LHP Ross Detwiler will throw a full bullpen session Saturday and remains on pace to return to the rotation Tuesday after skipping one start because of back spasms.