Phils grounded by Nationals

Phils grounded by Nationals

WASHINGTON -- It can't be the sight of Tim Redding that knocks the life out of the vaunted Phillies' offense.

Can it?

The Nationals' resurgent right-hander bullied the Phillies again, tossing a second dominating effort in Washington's 4-0 win at Nationals Park. Philadelphia has been shut out twice this season, with both games started by Redding.

How?

"By the grace of God," Redding said, with a laugh. "There aren't a lot of teams that throw shutouts against that offense, but to have the streak of innings that I have against them, it's one of those situations where you try and make good pitches."

He made them consistently. Though he needed relief help each time, Redding has allowed eight hits in 13 1/3 innings against the Phillies this season, and ran his record to 6-3.

"He's not afraid to throw strikes," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He uses his pitches and comes right at you. He doesn't do nothing extra or fancy."

Though it might be easy to blame Redding and move on, the Phillies offensive woes go deeper. Simply, the hitters are in a collective slump, averaging just more than three runs a game in their seven loses.

"This is a team that's built on offense," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said before Monday's game. "Frankly, our bullpen has been extraordinary so far. I don't know whether we can depend on that bullpen to continue doing what they're doing, but they've been very effective. With the way we're set up as a club, our offense should be better. We should be scoring more runs. It should take a lot more heat off of our pitching, frankly."

Redding allowed one hit in seven innings on April 2, and followed that by tossing 6 1/3 shutout innings on Monday, surrendering seven hits.

The Phillies had chances. Twice they had runners on first and second with one out, and twice more they had a runner on second with no outs.

They had nothing to show for it.

"When he had to get us out, he got us out," Manuel said.

"He was throwing strikes," said Geoff Jenkins, who had two leadoff doubles. "He got ahead of a lot of the hitters. He mixed his pitches well. We had opportunities, but couldn't come through with the big hit."

Washington scored one run in the first off Brett Myers, and added two more on a bases-loaded, two-run double by Lastings Milledge in the third. A fourth run came in the seventh.

Myers brought a 5.91 ERA into the game, but allowed three runs on eight hits in six innings. Considering his struggles, that has to be viewed as an improvement, right?

"So-so," Myers said. "I was in a lot of trouble, but worked out of it. I didn't have the best stuff, but I battled. I pitched out of some jams that I probably shouldn't have been in. I'm still trying to find it."

As are the Phillies hitters.

"You've got to give some credit to the other pitcher," said Pat Burrell, who went 0-for-4 and twice stranded a runner in scoring position. "He's been pitching pretty well as of late. He was changing speeds and locating, all the important things. But we're too good of an offensive team to not be scoring runs like we have."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.