The Washington Times - May 17, 2009, 03:05PM

What’s the last thing the Nationals and Phillies needed today at the end of a long weekend? How about a high-scoring, slow-paced slugfest with a potential rain delay looming?

Yeah, that’s what we’ve got here at Nationals Park right now. The Nats lead the Phillies 5-3 after three innings, thanks in large part to Chan Ho Park, who managed to make everyone long for Daniel Cabrera during an absolutely wretched start. Park threw 38 pitches in the first inning, then another 25 to the five batters he faced in the second before Phillies manager Charlie Manuel yanked him. Park’s final line: 1 1/3 innings, 5 hits, 5 earned runs, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts, 2 wild pitches, 63 total pitches (32 strikes). At least Cabrera makes it to the fifth before imploding.


Jordan Zimmermann appeared to be in for a similar afternoon when he struggled through a 38-pitch first inning himself, allowing three runs. But the rookie right-hander has righted the ship since and even managed to strike out Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth in succession in the third. If he keeps it together, he could be in line for his third win.

Meanwhile, there are some rain showers looming. Not sure if it will be enough to force the tarp on the field, but we should know soon enough.

In other news…

— Elijah Dukes had to come out of the game after only one inning, having re-aggravated his left hamstring strain. It was obvious Dukes wasn’t moving well on his first-inning double (which could have been a triple). He was replaced by Willie Harris, and his status is day-to-day. Given Dukes’ history of leg injuries, I wouldn’t be shocked if he winds up on the DL at some point.

— Austin Kearns is out of the lineup for the third straight game, still feeling the effects of a pitched ball off his left hand Friday night. Kearns swung in the cage this morning and could be available to pinch hit.