WASHINGTON (AP) — Aaron Nola bounced back from the shortest outing of his career to throw seven strong innings, and the Philadelphia Phillies took advantage of the Washington Nationals’ sloppy outfield defense to rally for a 3-2 victory on Wednesday night.
Bryce Harper, who won the 2015 NL MVP during a seven-year stint with Washington, delivered the go-ahead RBI single in the seventh to help the Phillies win their third in a row. The defending World Series champion Nationals have dropped three consecutive games to drop to a season-high six games under .500.
Nola (3-2), who threw a career-low 2 2/3 innings Friday in a loss at Atlanta, gave up two runs on five hits while striking out eight. Tommy Hunter tossed a perfect eighth, and recently acquired closer Brandon Workman escaped a two-on, one-out jam by striking out Eric Thames and Victor Robles for his second save since joining the Phillies from Boston and sixth overall.
“Obviously, I don’t want to start like I did in Atlanta,” Nola said. “But I feel like throughout a pitcher’s career it’s going to happen at least one time. I didn’t hang my head about it. Nothing was wrong.”
The game began before news broke that some major league teams were refusing to take the field to bring awareness to racial injustice. Athletes in several sports boycotted their games Wednesday to protest the shooting by police of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez became emotional discussing the players’ actions and said he would speak to his team about how they want to proceed.
“I’m proud of the NBA. I’m proud of all the people who stand for justice. You know the way I feel about all this stuff. It’s horrible,” Martinez said. “We need change. We’re people. We have to come up with some kind of conclusion because this is bad. I’m going to talk to the players. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
The Phillies trailed 2-1 entering the seventh against Washington starter Patrick Corbin, who yielded a solo homer to Rhys Hoskins in the third but had otherwise avoided serious trouble. Didi Gregorius led off with a hit to left that Juan Soto dove for and missed, turning a likely single into a triple.
That ended Corbin’s night, and Alec Bohm greeted reliever Will Harris (0-1) with a single past Thames at first to tie the game. After a fielder’s-choice grounder put Roman Quinn on first, Andrew McCutchen hit a routine fly to deep right-center, but Robles and Adam Eaton collided in what was scored a single. Two batters later, the speedy Quinn easily scored from second on Harper’s looping single to left to give the Phillies the lead.
“We can’t give teams that many outs,” Martinez said. “I talk about it all the time. It’s tough to win ballgames like that. I feel bad for Harris. That’s the best I’ve seen him throw since he’s been here. He threw the ball really well. He was out there for five outs.”
Phillies manager Joe Girardi became the 65th manager in major league history to win 1,000 games, and players gave him a bottle of champagne with a “1,000” label after the game. Girardi improved to 1,000-808 in 12 seasons with Florida (2006), the New York Yankees (2008-17) and Philadelphia (2020).
“I knew I wanted to stay in the game and stay on the field,” Girardi said. “Early in my career, I thought about the front office but I realized I don’t want to 365 days a year and I really love the competition and relationships with the players and trying to figure out how to match strategy. And my favorite (part of) this is to watch players have success.”
Soto led off the second with a first-pitch blast into the left field seats, his eighth homer of the season. Washington shortstop Trea Turner singled in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to 12 games.
Nationals: LHP Sean Doolittle (right knee) was activated from the injured list. Doolittle is 0-1 with a 15.00 ERA in five appearances this season. … Martinez said RHP Stephen Strasburg (carpal tunnel neuritis) underwent surgery Wednesday. The Nationals announced Saturday that Strasburg, last year’s World Series MVP, was done for the season after going 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA in two starts. … LHP Seth Romero will undergo surgery to put a pin in his fractured right hand.
Washington optioned rookie INF Carter Kieboom to its alternate site. Kieboom is hitting .200 with no homers, 5 RBIs and 20 strikeouts in 50 at-bats, and grounded into two inning-ending double plays in Tuesday’s loss to Philadelphia.
Phillies: RHP Spencer Howard (0-1, 6.17 ERA) makes his fourth career start as the three-game series concludes. Howard’s longest outing of the season is 4 2/3 innings.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (2-1, 4.31) is 11-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 20 career starts against Philadelphia.
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