Jackson hangs tough, but Hamels bests Nats

Jackson hangs tough, but Hamels bests Nats

Jackson hangs tough, but Hamels bests Nats
PHILADELPHIA -- Before Wednesday's game, the talk was about Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels facing Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper for the second time in a month. After all, it was Hamels who hit the 19-year-old Harper in the back on May 6, and then acknowledged after the game that it was his intention to hit Harper.

But there wasn't any confrontation between the two this time. Instead, Hamels dominated and helped the Phillies defeat the Nationals, 4-1, at Citizens Bank Park.

Hamels said he wasn't thinking about the incident with Harper despite the attention he received for hitting the rookie.

"No, ultimately I had nine guys I had to face. It wasn't even in the back of my mind," Hamels said.

Even Harper wasn't thinking about the incident in early May. Harper went so far as to say that everyone has forgotten about what happened between him and Hamels earlier this month.

"I don't think anybody really cares about it anymore," Harper said. "Maybe that's the reason we got Wednesday night baseball [on ESPN]. It's pretty cool we got on ESPN. That's all behind us. I'm not worried about that. We are just trying to go out and play. Like I said before, I respect everybody in [the Phillies'] clubhouse. They are all All-Stars. They have some Cy Youngs over there. So they are a pretty impressive team."

Hamels was so good Wednesday that he had a no-hitter after five innings, and finished with eight shutout innings to improve to 7-1 on the season.

"He was real good," said Harper, who went 1-for-3 with a walk against the left-hander. "Every pitch was working for him. Fastball, curveball, changeup, cutter -- he had it. He threw the ball well tonight, painted it up, all the effort he gave, he did a great job. ... He is really effective when he is down. That's what he did, and he threw a great game."

In the sixth inning, Danny Espinosa broke up the no-hitter by hitting a one-out double near the left-field line. Harper followed and singled to right field. Espinosa tried to score on the play, but was thrown out by right fielder Hunter Pence.

Manager Davey Johnson said he was not going to second-guess third-base coach Bo Porter for sending Espinosa home. However, Johnson was not happy that that Harper didn't advanced to second on the throw by Pence. The next hitter was Ryan Zimmerman, who singled to right field, which could have scored Harper.

"Harper should have gone to second base on the high throw [by Pence]. We would have been in better position," Johnson said. "They made plays, we didn't."

Harper felt he made the right decision by staying on first base. "[First-base coach Trent Jewett] told me to stay, and that's what I was doing," Harper said. "I didn't want to get thrown out. [Catcher Carlos Ruiz] has a great arm. I didn't want to get thrown out in a situation like that."

Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson had another quality outing, but ended up losing his second game of the season. He pitched seven innings, allowed three runs on seven hits, and struck out four batters.

The Phillies had a 2-0 lead by the third inning. In the second, Philadelphia had runners on first and second when Mike Fontenot singled to right field, scoring Ruiz.

An inning later, Pence scored on a double by Shane Victorino. Fontenot later scored on a squeeze bunt by Juan Pierre in the seventh inning.

Jackson acknowledged that he couldn't find his rhythm in early innings.

"I just gotta come out and do it from the first batter on," Jackson said. "It's just a matter of keeping the ball down, regardless whether they are hard-hit balls or softly hit balls. A hit is a hit. You just have to come out and try to keep it down and execute."

Victorino closed the Phillies' scoring with a solo homer in the eighth off the struggling Henry Rodriguez. According to Johnson, Rodriguez felt bad after giving up the home run. But Johnson told Rodriguez that he needed him for the rest of the season.

"I told him after the ballgame, 'I need you, man. We have a long way to go, a lot of battles to be won.' He is taking it pretty hard when he is not successful," Johnson said. "He'll be back. He will be all right."

Adam LaRoche enabled the Nats to avoid the shutout with a solo homer off Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth.

With the loss, the Nationals dropped their record to 26-18.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.