WASHINGTON — In the quest to give Cole Hamels some run support, the Philadelphia Phillies didn’t get very far against Stephen Strasburg.
Hamels (1-8) had his latest tough-luck outing Sunday. The Phillies never solved Strasburg, and some fluke moments and a pair of errors hurt Hamels in a five-run seventh during a 6-1 loss to the Washington Nationals.
“We’re having a hard time scoring for him, and it definitely seems like things aren’t going his way right now,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “It’s something he’s got to just battle through. I don’t know what to tell him except keep pitching, keep battling through and it’ll change.'”
Hamels struck out six and allowed only three hits through six innings. He has lost five straight starts, has had only 20 runs of support scored all season when he’s been in the game and hasn’t pitched with a lead since April 7.
Hamels didn’t speak to reporters after his previous loss. He might be running out of ways to answer the same questions about the lack of offense.
“It’s just part of the game,” he said. “You have to go out there and execute pitch after pitch and try to get through the hitters, through the innings, and obviously through the game.”
Strasburg (3-5) also has a record that hasn’t been indicative of his performance, but this time the Nationals supported him with the most runs they’ve scored in an inning all season.
The key moment in the five-run seventh was a broken-bat dribbler to third by Jhonatan Solano with the bases loaded. Michael Young charged the ball but made a low throw to home, the ball scooting away as two runners scored.
Steve Lombardozzi followed with a two-run double that chased Hamels, and it became clear the Phillies would be thwarted in their latest chance to get their record back to .500.
“It started snowballing on him,” Manuel said. “They get a couple of fluke hits and put us in a bad position.”
Strasburg struck out a season-high nine in eight innings and walked none. His only run allowed came in the eighth on his first big league balk.
He’s allowed three earned runs in his last four starts, lowering his ERA to 2.49 in a season when his team’s offense has been so lacking that manager Davey Johnson vowed to stop shaving until it improves.
Johnson said after the game that the facial hair is “getting close” to coming off, but pitcher Gio Gonzalez lobbied otherwise, telling the manager: “It’s not shaggy enough.”
The Nationals might have to go without Bryce Harper for a while after he banged his left knee three times, twice with head-first slides in the first inning. He slid into second on an infield hit-and-error, then hit the dirt again with a steal of third. He was removed for pinch runner in the seventh.
“He’ll probably be down a few days,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if there’s fluid on the knee or what, but he was certainly gimpy.”
Harper initially hurt the knee running into the Dodger Stadium wall on May 13. He quickly answered “no” when asked whether he expected to miss any playing time.
“It probably won’t get better until the offseason,” he said. “I’ve just got to deal with the pain.”
Notes: Hamels and Strasburg accounted for half of the game’s hits through six innings. ... Phillies 1B Kevin Frandsen spiked his bat and was immediately ejected by plate umpire Mike Winters after getting called for a check-swing strike three in the fourth inning. Frandsen’s first at-bat was also memorable: He took a 95 mph fastball from Strasburg in the hand and chest while trying to bunt for a hit. ... The Phillies activated RHP Mike Adams (right back strain) from the 15-day DL and optioned RHP B.J. Rosenberg to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.