The Washington Times - April 13, 2009, 05:35PM

A week into this 2009 season, it’s clear the Nationals’ offense is going to be much better than it was last year. It’s just tough for that to translate into wins when they’re constantly fighting out of a hole.

Saul Rivera allowed the damage this time, hitting two batters to start the seventh before Ryan Howard launched an 0-1 pitch to center for a three-run homer. Then, Raul Ibanez hit a solo shot to make it 8-4. Adam Dunn’s two-run homer in the seventh gave Nats fans a little hope, but it’s still 8-6 Phillies after seven.

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Dunn’s value to this offense, however, is unmistakably clear at this point. He’s 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBI. More than that, he helps keeps innings alive with his walks; the one he drew in the first prolonged the rally long enough for Elijah Dukes to drive in a run with his double.