Nationals manager Matt Williams came away satisfied with what his team was able to accomplish during the first half. Considering the first-half injuries to major players like Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Ryan Zimmerman, the manager is pleased to be in a first-place tie.
"Considering everything that is going on, we are OK," Williams said. "We are right in the thick of our division. We have a chance. That's all we could ask for, considering what's going on. I'm happy about it.
"[The break] comes at a good time for us. We have some guys that played a lot of innings. They will use those few days off, rest up a little bit."
One of the guys who played a lot of innings during the first half was right fielder Jayson Werth, who has been the team's hottest hitter in July, hitting .375 with six home runs and 19 RBIs. But even Werth said he could use the four days off.
"Four days to rest up and rest away," Werth said. "The second half is the best time to play. I look forward to that. We have a real break here, which will be nice. I think everybody could use it. … You set yourself up in the first half, and you give yourself a chance in the second. We'll see what we have coming down the stretch, and we'll see the type of team we are made of. It seems like we are relatively healthy going into the second half, which is good. That's really all you could ask for."
The Nationals did not waste any time getting ahead against Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick. After Denard Span and Anthony Rendon singled to open the game, Werth followed with a home run over the left-field wall.
"Today was just not [having] some quality pitches, I guess," Kendrick said. "Span hit an 0-2 changeup and found a hole and Rendon a cutter, and Jayson I hung a curveball. I think it's just quality of pitches. I have to keep working at it. I will fix it."
The Nationals were then quiet with the bats until the sixth inning, when they scored four runs. Kendrick, who retired 14 straight batters after Werth's home run, was still on the mound when Ryan Zimmerman hit a sacrifice fly to score Anthony Rendon.
Left-hander Mario Hollands then entered the game and allowed Ian Desmond to hit a two-run double and Jose Lobaton to hit an RBI single for the 7-0 lead.
Right-hander Justin De Fratus allowed a leadoff home run to Zimmerman, his first batter faced, to open the eighth inning.
Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark rebounded from his past two starts, both losses to the Cubs, by allowing one run on four hits with six strikeouts over seven innings. The run scored in the sixth inning, when Grady Sizemore scored on a groundout by Ryan Howard.
What did Roark do differently in this start? It boiled down to confidence.
"I'm pitching with confidence, and I really didn't try to nibble," Roark said. "The changeup was working today. That helped me get out of a jam a couple of times. The changeup was the biggest thing as far as getting ahead."
Now it's time to rest up and get ready for the second half.