The Major League-leading Washington Nationals took a hit when they lost a three-game sweep to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.
Cliff Lee tossed seven sharp innings for his first home win in nearly a year, while Washington wrecked itself with a big mistake on the bases, helping the Phillies to a 4-1 victory.
Jimmy Rollins hit a two-run homer and Laynce Nix had a solo shot to back Lee (3-7). The 2008 AL Cy Young pitching award winner had not won at home since Sept. 5 last year, going 0-6 in his previous 12 starts.
The loss left the Nationals in a testy mood. Manager Davey Johnson was heard screaming at someone in the clubhouse, sarcastically suggesting that person “come down here” and run the team.
General manager Mike Rizzo was seen entering the clubhouse after the game, and presumably engaged in the heated conversation with Johnson.
“I had a discussion with my boss and I apologize to you guys,” Johnson said, explaining why reporters had to wait nearly 25 minutes before entering his office.
Johnson did not say more about the confrontation and Rizzo was not immediately available to comment.
The Nationals have lost four straight for the first time since June 19. They entered with a five-game lead over Atlanta.
The third-place Phillies are not going to win their sixth straight NL East title, but they were determined to make a statement against the Nationals. They may have done more than that, stirring up some tension on the Nationals’ side.
“We expect to win every time we take the field,” Lee said. “Hopefully we can carry this over the rest of the season.”
The Cincinnati Reds retained their lead in the NL Central despite an emphatic 8-2 home loss to the St Louis Cardinals.
Matt Holliday had four hits and four RBIs for St Louis and Adam Wainwright won his fifth consecutive start.
Allen Craig homered and drove in three runs as St Louis handed the Reds just their second series loss in 13 sets since the All-Star break. The Cardinals have won five of six to move within six games of the Reds.
St Louis’ 17 hits were the most allowed by Cincinnati in a game this season.
Detroit took another step toward an American League wild-card spot for the playoffs as Prince Fielder and Delmon Young homered on consecutive pitches in the sixth inning to help the Tigers beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-2.
Max Scherzer (14-6) gave up one run and struck out nine over seven innings, while Joaquin Benoit struck out two more in a perfect eighth, and Jose Valverde struck out another batter while closing it out.
Angels right-hander Ervin Santana (7-11) allowed four runs and five hits over seven innings.
Detroit and Los Angeles, also vying for an AL wild card with 30-plus games left in the regular season, both rested one of their stars heading into an off day yesterday.
In Boston, James Loney hit a tying single in his Red Sox debut and Jacoby Ellsbury drove in the go-ahead run as the revamped Boston bounced back from a nine-player trade and a 12-inning loss to beat the Kansas City Royals 8-6.
Meanwhile, Curtis Granderson hit his 200th career home run to help the New York Yankees to a 4-2 win in Cleveland.
In other AL games, the Chicago White Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 4-3 in a rain-shortened game and the Minnesota Twins edged the Texas Rangers 6-5.
In the NL, the Miami Marlins downed the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-2, the Milwaukee Brewers blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-0, the San Diego Padres beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4, the Chicago Cubs shut out the Colorado Rockies in a game shortened to eight innings by rain and the New York Mets claimed a late 2-1 win over the Houston Astros.