WASHINGTON (AP) — Cole Hamels enjoyed facing another ace Sunday, even though Stephen Strasburg was just a little better.
Although Hamels gave up one unearned run over seven innings, the Phillies fell 4-0 to the Nationals, snapping a three-start winning streak for the left-hander.
Strasburg (8-9) was a big reason for that, pitching seven innings of three-hit ball, striking out 10 and not allowing a runner past second.
“He and I are just trying to compete at the highest level and put up as many zeroes as we possibly can against each other,” said Hamels (6-6). “I think it brings the ultimate competition out.”
The last-place Phillies settled for a four-game split agains the NL East-Leading Nationals.
The aces previously dueled on July 12 in Philadelphia, when Hamels yielded three runs and Strasburg two in what finished as a 5-3 Nationals win and a no-decision for both starters.
This time, Hamels gave up four hits and struck out six in his second consecutive start without an earned run. He has given up one earned run or fewer in nine of his last 13 starts.
“Hard to not think it’s a waste of a solid start,” Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg said. “That’s what he’s been doing. His command’s excellent.”
The Phillies’ lineup couldn’t get to Strasburg. The Washington right-hander pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, striking out 10. He walked one and didn’t permit a runner past second base.
The Phillies were shut out for the second straight day and haven’t scored in 21 innings.
Despite throwing just 86 pitches, Reid Brignac pinch-hit for Hamels in the eighth in hopes of sparking the offense.
“With only five outs to go, we need to try to score with the opportunities running short,” Sandberg said.
Strasburg mixed in his off-speed pitches well throughout the afternoon and threw 68 of his 99 pitches for strikes.
“You’ve really just got to do your best to pound the strike zone with the fastball, get that going early, get the feel for that,” Strasburg said, “and hopefully all your other pitches fall in place.”
Denard Span had two hits, two steals, an RBI and scored a run for Washington.
Cody Asche got two hits for the Phillies, but also committed an error at third base on Jose Lobaton’s chopper that led to Washington scoring in the third inning.
After dropping the ball, Asche grabbed it and his wide throw pulled first baseman Ryan Howard off the bag. Strasburg sacrificed and Span hit a looping single into right-center for the first run of the game.
Phillies: Left fielder Domonic Brown has an infection in his tonsils and will see a doctor in Philadelphia on Monday. He was out of the lineup for a third straight game. … Right fielder Marlon Byrd batted fifth despite continuing to battle a bruised right foot. Byrd’s last off day came Tuesday at the Mets.
Phillies: After an off-day Monday, Kyle Kendrick (5-11, 4.92) makes his seventh career appearance (five starts) against Houston on Tuesday, and his first against them in interleague play.
Nationals: Washington welcomes Baltimore on Monday in a makeup of their July 8 rainout. Tanner Roark (11-6, 2.74) will make his first career start against the Orioles.
Needing bullpen help, the Phillies selected the contract of right-hander Hector Neris from Triple-A Lehigh Valley and optioned right-hander Phillippe Aumont to the same affiliate.
Philadelphia relievers worked 14 2-3 innings in the series thanks to the early departures of Cliff Lee Thursday (elbow injury) and A.J. Burnett Saturday (ejection.)
Phillies reliever Ken Giles gave up three runs, two earned, on two hits and two walks while getting just one out, raising his ERA from 0.87 to 2.14.