Bergmann's start for naught as Nats fall

Bergmann's start for naught as Nats fall

WASHINGTON -- Elijah Dukes walked in the bottom of the ninth and stole second with pinch-hitter Rob Mackowiak batting. Dukes then stole third. Moments later, he danced halfway down the line, while Phillies closer Brad Lidge was at work.

That's how hard the Nationals were trying to create some offense -- after all, not much else worked on this night.

Nationals starter Jason Bergmann extended his scoreless streak to 14 innings with another solid effort, but his teammates couldn't do much to help the cause. Phillies starter Cole Hamels struck out 11 in a masterful seven-inning stint, and Philadelphia pushed across a run in the ninth off closer Jon Rauch to escape with a 1-0 victory on Tuesday before 28,105 at Nationals Park.

Bergmann has been very good since coming back from the Minors. He threw seven shutout innings in a 1-0 victory over the Mets last week, and the right-hander did it again in this game.

He was in trouble just once, when the Phillies loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Bergmann got Shane Victorino to line out to center.

"He matched [Hamels] zero by zero for seven innings, and that's all you can ask for," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "He pitched a great ballgame for us. Cole's tough; We had our chance when we had the man on third with less than two outs, and we couldn't do it."

Bergmann said he's been working hard to improve since being sent down. He struck out five and walked three in his seven-inning effort.

"All my credit today goes to Jesus Flores and the defense," Bergmann said. "That guy's really turned into some heck of a catcher. I trust him with every pitch. He's really maturing and becoming a great Major League catcher."

Both teams did have scoring chances, as each club left 10 men on base. But the Phillies broke through in the ninth against Rauch after not scoring a run in the first 17 innings of the series.

Pedro Feliz started the ninth by lining a double into the left-field corner. Carlos Ruiz then sacrificed pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett over to third, before pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs blooped a soft single to center to score the game's only run.

"I just didn't do the job at the end of the game," said Rauch. "I made a mistake, it's over with. Tomorrow's a new ballgame."

The Phillies nearly scored again in the ninth, but good Nats defense stopped them. Victorino lined a double to center with two outs, but shortstop Cristian Guzman took a good throw from Lastings Milledge and made a perfect relay to Flores, who blocked the plate and tagged Dobbs out to end the inning.

The Nationals couldn't muster anything against Hamels, who had his best stuff again. The left-hander held the Nationals to four hits in seven innings and now has blanked opponents for 19 consecutive innings. Despite not getting the victory, Hamels kept the Phillies in position to get the win.

"It's just one of those things where I just keep going out there and attacking the hitters," Hamels said. "I think when you're able to attack the hitters and throw strikes, it puts more pressure on the hitter to really put the ball in play."

The Nationals' best scoring chance against Hamels came in the fourth when Ryan Zimmerman and Dmitri Young both singled to start the inning. But Hamels retired the next three batters to end that threat.

Wily Mo Pena then doubled with two outs in the seventh, but Hamels bounced back to strike out pinch-hitter Aaron Boone.

Tom Gordon then pitched a scoreless eighth, escaping from a two-on, two-outs jam by getting Milledge to ground out. Lidge came on in the ninth and struck out the first two hitters before Dukes walked.

He then stole the two bases while Mackowiak was walking. Dukes came very far down the line, but it didn't matter as Lopez grounded to Chase Utley at second. The Nationals nearly got a break as the ball hit Utley and momentarily popped up into the air, but he grabbed it and threw Lopez out to end the game.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.