I’m not saying Joe Blanton is a bad pitcher. Not at all. I actually think the opposite is true. I’m just saying if I was a Nats fan and knew we’re facing Blanton, Halladay and Lee in the series, I’d be pretty geeked up about the at-bats against Blanton.

Blanton didn’t have it again last night, allowing five runs over six innings to lower his ERA on the year to 10.45 after two starts. The Phils gave him an early 1-0 lead, but Washington tied the game with a run off of him in the third, pulled ahead 4-1 with three in the fourth and extended the lead to 5-1 in the fifth. The bullpen struggled after he left, allowing a pair of runs over two innings and the Phils fell 7-4 to drop the series opener.

Twice through their rotation, the Phillies have now gotten four miserable starts — two from Blanton, one from Hamels and one from Lee. Three of them account for their three losses on the year (they won the game in Blanton’s first miserable start). They still haven’t lost a game yet this season in which their starting pitcher allowed less than five runs.

The Phillies are 7-3 on the year after losing to the Washington 7-4 last night.

Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and a walk. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and a home run. He struck out four.

He threw a 1-2-3 first, getting Ian Desmond on a ground ball to short, Rick Ankiel swinging 1-2 and Jayson Werth on a ground ball to third.

Blanton was up 1-0 when he struck Matt Stairs out to start the second. Wilson Ramos followed with a single to right and Laynce Nix singled to right as well, moving Ramos to third. It brought Danny Espinosa to the plate and he hit a fly ball to center deep enough for Ramos to tag and score, tying the game at 1-1. Jerry Hairston grounded back to Blanton, leaving Nix stranded at first.

Blanton struck out pitcher Livan Hernandez to start the third. Desmond grounded to third for the second out and Blanton struck Ankiel out for the second time in two at-bats to end the inning.

Werth started the fourth and doubled to left. He moved to third when Stairs followed with a ground out. Ramos was next and he blasted a ball off the base of the wall in right-center, scoring Werth to put Washington up 2-1. Nix hit a ball hard on the right side. Valdez made a nice play to field on the grass in shallow right field, but Nix beat the throw to first for a single and Ramos moved to third. Espinosa was next and Blanton walked him on five pitches to lead the bases for Hariston. Hairston roped a single to left and everyone moved up a base with Ramos scoring. 3-1 with the bases still loaded. Hernandez put down a pretty bunt on the first pitch of his at-bat that rolled down the first base line. Blanton fielded and Nix took off from third and scored as the throw went to first. 4-1 with men on second and third for Desmond, who chopped it to third. Polanco fielded and threw him out at first for the third out.

Nice job by Valdez to keep the ball in the infield in Nix’s at-bat. It saved the Phils a run as Ramos had to hold third, but only for a couple of minutes.

Werth homered to left with one out in the fifth, making it 5-1. Blanton got Stairs and Ramos behind him.

He threw a 1-2-3 sixth, getting Nix on a ground ball to second, Espinosa to pop to third and Hairston on a ground ball to short.

David Herndon started the seventh and got Alex Cora, who had been double-switched into the game at third in the top of the inning, on a fly ball to center for the first out. He struck Desmond out for the second out, but Ankiel singled to left and moved to second when Werth walked behind him. Bastardo came on to pitch to the lefty Stairs and righty Michael Morse hit for Stairs. Ankiel and Werth pulled off a steal before Morse walked, loading the bases for Ramos. Bastardo walked him, too, forcing in Ankiel to put the Nats up 6-1. Nix grounded to short for the third out.

Not a real impressive inning for either Herndon or Bastardo. Herndon got the first two before allowing two base-runners in a row. Bastardo walks in the first two guys he faces.

Baez started the eighth with the Phils down 6-3. He walked Espinosa to start the frame. Ivan Rodriguez was next and hit a ball to short. Rollins took and had to go to first for the out with Espinosa taking second. Cora singled past a diving Polanco and into left. Espinosa scored to make it 7-3 and Cora took second when Ibanez threw home and the ball wasn’t cut. Desmond moved Cora to third with a ground out to short, a nice play by Rollins in the hole and a long throw, but Baez got Ankiel to line to short to leave him there.

Two runs in two innings for the pen. None of Herndon, Bastardo or Baez fare particularly well. Herndon threw 18 pitches, Baez 15 and Bastardo 12.

The Phillies lineup against righty Livan Hernandez went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Rollins (4) Howard (5) Francisco (6) Ibanez (7) Ruiz (8) Valdez. Francisco continues to hit fifth against righties, breaking up the lefties Howard and Ibanez.

The Phils went in order in the first.

Howard led off the second and hit a 1-0 pitch out to left for his third homer of the year, putting the Phils up 1-0. Francisco, Ibanez and Ruiz went down behind him.

The game was tied at 1-1 when the Phils went in order in the third.

Polanco struck out looking to start the fourth, but Rollins followed and dropped a single into right. Howard hit a ground ball to second. Espinosa fielded and Rollins stopped in the base path. Espinosa transferred the ball from his glove to his hand to throw to first, tagged Rollins with his empty glove and got the call for the out, but his throw to first was bad and over Stairs’s head. Rollins was out, Howard was safe and Francisco come to the plate with two down and Howard on first. He hit a line drive to left that went off the glove of a sliding Nix for a single that moved Howard to second. Ibanez flew to center to leave both men stranded.

Awful defense by the Nats. They were lucky to get one out on what should have been a double-play ball hit by Howard. Espinosa made a bad tag and a bad throw. Nix should have made the play on the ball hit by Francisco.

The Phils were down 4-1 when they went in order in the fifth.

Polanco singled with one out in the sixth and the Phils down 5-1. Rollins flew to center and Howard struck out swinging to leave him stranded.

Francisco grounded to second to start the seventh, but Ibanez, Ruiz and Valdez all singled behind him, loading the bases with one out. With the righty Hernandez still on the mound for the Nats, Mayberry hit for Blanton and struck out swinging at a 1-2 curve ball that arrived at the plate at around 60-mph. Righty Tyler Clippard came in and struck Victorino out on a normaler pitch to leave the bases loaded.

No runs for the Phils after loading the bases with one out. Big question is why Manuel hit the righty Mayberry instead of the lefty Gload against the righty Hernandez. Big answer seems likely to me to be that he thought it was too early in the game to use the best hitter on his bench. He also could have called on the lefty Orr, backup catcher and other lefty Schneider or the switch-hitter Martinez. It’s got to be one of the good hitters on the bench, though, and those are Gload and Mayberry. I don’t think Gload would have gotten to hit against Hernandez anyway, so it was Mayberry against Hernandez or Gload against not Hernandez (Doug Slaten?). Anyway, Manuel chose Mayberry against the righty and it didn’t work out well for him.

The Phils loaded the bases with one out again in the eighth on a single by Rollins and walks to Howard and Francisco. Lefty Sean Burnett came in to pitch to Ibanez and Ibanez hit a double-play ball to second that should have ended the inning, but the Nats didn’t get two. Espinosa went to second to force Francisco for the second out, but Rollins scored to cut the lead to 6-2. With Ruiz at the plate and men on first and third, Burnett delivered a ball outside and in the dirt that Ivan Rodriguez didn’t handle. Howard scored and Ibanez took second with the score 6-3. Ruiz flew to center to leave Ibanez there.

It was 7-3 when Valdez started the ninth with a pretty bunt on the third base side of the mound. Burnett made a nice sliding play to make it close at first, but Valdez was safe with an infield single as Mike Morse was (maybe) pulled off the bag. Martinez hit for Baez and grounded to third for the first out with Valdez moving up to second. Victorino flew to center for the second out before Polanco delivered a single into center that plated Valdez. 7-4 for Rollins with two outs and a man on first with Howard lurking on deck as the tying run. Rollins lined to short to end the game.

Valdez should have been out. Great play by Burnett and I think Morse stayed on the bal with a nice stretch. It was a very nice bunt either way.

Victorino was 0-for-5 in the game. He has at least one hit in seven of the ten games so far.

Polanco 2-for-5 with an RBI. He hasn’t scored a run in the last five games.

Rollins was 2-for-5 and is 5-for-his-last-14 with three doubles. Rollins hasn’t walked in the last five games. Polanco hasn’t walked in the last six.

Howard was 1-for-3 with a home run, which was the only extra-base hit in the game for the Phillies. He also walked in the game, one of two for the Phils. He’s 3-for-his-last-18.

Francisco was 1-for-3 with the other walk. Glad to see the hit drop for him, but it was a play that Nix should have made.

Ibanez 1-for-4 with an RBI. He’s 7-for-31 with a double against righties (226/294/258) and 3-for-8 with a double and a home run (375/500/875) against lefties.

Ruiz 1-for-4. 8-for-17 over his last five games.

Valdez was 2-for-4 to raise his average to .355 for the year.

I feel nearly completely unmotivated to muster any ill will towards former Phil Jayson Werth, who is 2-for-3 with a walk, a double and a home run so far in the series.

Roy Halladay (1-0, 0.69) faces lefty John Lannan (1-0, 3.60) tonight. Lannan has made two starts on the season and gone five innings each time, allowing a run against the Braves in his first outing and three runs against the Marlins his last time out. Ibanez is 10-for-15 against Lannan in his career with a double, a triple and two home runs. Halladay has allowed one run in 13 innings over two starts so far this year.