- Associated Press - Sunday, April 19, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - David Buchanan showed improvement in his third start of the season.

It just wasn’t enough against Stephen Strasburg at the top of his game.

Buchanan allowed three runs in a two-out, fifth-inning rally and the Philadelphia Phillies fell 4-1 to the Washington Nationals on Sunday.

“I made some good pitches, just had some tough luck on some hits,” said Buchanan, who allowed six hits and three walks and struck out four in five innings.

After allowing 11 earned runs in 8 2-3 innings across his first two starts, Buchanan’s improved outing might’ve been enough for another team against another pitcher.

But after scoring five runs in a victory Saturday, the Phillies offense - which has 32 runs in 13 games - returned to its early season struggles in their seventh loss of their past eight.

“It’s tough,” Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said. “It’s still early enough to where you still have an opportunity. Just trying to take it one day at a time, one pitch at a time, one play at a time.”

Strasburg allowed a run in 7 1-3 innings, and took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Carlos Ruiz broke it up with a two-out single to left.

The power-throwing righty needed only 21 pitches - 18 strikes - to work through the first three innings.

“A tough pitcher like that, you don’t want to get behind and have two strikes on you,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.

Philadelphia chased Strasburg in the eighth, when Odubel Herrera doubled and scored on Freddy Galvis’ single to cut it to 4-1.

After evading earlier trouble, the Nationals got to Buchanan on a rally sparked when Denard Span singled in his first game back following surgery in March to fix a core muscle.

Span scored from first on Ian Desmond’s double down the left field line. Desmond then scored on Jayson Werth’s single up the middle, and Ryan Zimmerman’s bloop double ahead of a diving Jeff Francoeur made it 3-0.

“That fly ball to Zimmerman, you just can’t do anything about that,” Buchanan said.

Zimmerman later drove in another run on a single off reliever Dustin McGowan.


Phillies OF Domonic Brown (left Achilles tendinitis) is 0 for 8 in two games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley after beginning his rehab assignment with Class A Clearwater. Brown started in right and batted third Sunday, going 0 for 4 with a walk and a run scored.


With his double Sunday, the rookie Herrera is 9 for his past 20 with four doubles, two triples and five runs scored.

“He’s learning, no question,” Sandberg said. “He’s done an outstanding job.”


Sandberg moved Howard up to the fifth spot in the order Sunday after dropping him to seventh in the first three games of the series. In the series, Howard went 3 for 13 with an RBI to raise his average to .175.


Right-hander Jerome Williams (0-1, 4.09) starts as Philadelphia begins a six-game homestand Tuesday with the first of three against the Miami Marlins.



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