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Another blown save costs Nationals first game of double-header against Phillies

Another blown save costs Nationals first game of double-header against Phillies

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After the Nationals' latest blown save, Washington manager Dusty Baker said he's open to a move to bolster his faltering bullpen.

He also knows he might have to wait a while.

Shawn Kelley struggled Sunday before Koda Glover allowed Ty Kelly's tiebreaking RBI single in Philadelphia's three-run ninth inning, sending the Nationals to a 4-3 loss to the Phillies in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.

"You're always pushing for a trade, but there ain't nobody trading right now," Baker said after his team suffered a third blown save in six games. "Sometimes you have no choice but to have patience. Nobody's going to drop you down a knockdown closer out of the sky until there's some teams out of it."

Aaron Altherr opened the ninth with his eighth homer. Maikel Franco and Cameron Rupp hit consecutive doubles off Kelley, and Freddy Galvis walked before Kelly's clutch swing lifted Philadelphia to its third win in 14 games.

"We've been in a hole, trying to climb out," Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said.

The Phillies also came back from three runs down to win in the teams' series finale last weekend in Philadelphia.

"That's how it's been against these guys all year," Altherr said of the Nationals relievers, who entered Sunday with a combined NL-worst 5.18 ERA. "We know their bullpen has been struggling a little bit. Never give up, never quit, keep fighting."

Kelley (3-1) blew his second save in five opportunities. The right-hander was activated from the disabled list Friday after being sidelined with a back strain and got the win with a scoreless inning in Saturday's 6-4 victory.

"I wasn't 100 percent," Kelley said of the quick turnaround. "But we don't always pitch 100 percent every time out. The bottom line is, in that situation, I want the ball there. And I've got to do my job, and I didn't."

Joaquin Benoit (1-2) pitched a scoreless eighth for Philadelphia, and Hector Neris finished for his fourth save.

Bryce Harper hit his 12th homer for NL East-leading Washington, and Trea Turner added a two-run shot.

Gio Gonzalez allowed one run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings, but saw a late lead disappear with the bullpen for the second time this season.

"This is just, `Turn the page, hey it happens, it's part of baseball,'" Gonzalez said of Kelley. "I know for a fact that he put his heart out there and he tried his best, you know."

Tommy Joseph hit an opposite-field homer off Gonzalez in the seventh, setting up Philadelphia's late rally.

TRAINERS ROOM

Phillies: INF Howie Kendrick (abdominal strain) is about to begin swinging the bat and will have at least one rehab game before returning, Mackanin said.

Nationals: LF Jayson Werth was out of the lineup for both games after leaving Saturday night's game because of groin tightness.

HOMER HAPPY

Harper has homered five times in eight games against the Phillies, even after missing an entire series with a groin injury.

SO IT'S BEEN A WHILE

Hellickson's fourth start against Washington in the season's 34th game is the earliest a Phillies starter has seen a team that many times since Jumbo Elliott faced the Brooklyn Dodgers for a fourth time in the 32nd game of the 1931 season.

UP NEXT

Phillies: Game 2 right-handed starter Vince Velazquez has a 6.88 ERA in six career starts vs. Washington, including an 8.18 ERA in two starts this season.

Nationals: Righty ace Max Scherzer aims for his 53rd career double-digit strikeout game -- and third straight -- to pass the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw for the most among active players.

MORE NATIONALS: Bryce Harper said he wants to be like John Wall

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Max Scherzer Giving Away Memorabilia For Good Cause

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USA Today Sports Images

Max Scherzer Giving Away Memorabilia For Good Cause

By Ryan Wormeli

Max Scherzer is the ace of the Nationals staff, a fan favorite, and the 2017 National League Cy Young award winner. He's also a soon-to-be father whose wife, Erica May-Scherzer, once accidentally threw out the jersey he wore when throwing his 2nd career no-hitter. This time around, I'm guessing they talked it over first before deciding to sell some of his memorabilia garage-style for a new fundraiser.

We don't have any more information about the fundraiser yet, but May-Scherzer posted some photos on Twitter this afternoon. 

And in case you're wondering, no, the Scherzer family cat featured in one of the pictures isn't for sale (we assume). Plus, even if they were willing to part with their cat, considering Scherzer is on a contract worth over $200 Million, their price would probably be pretty steep. How much would you pay to adopt the cat of a 3-time Cy Young winner?

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Why Bryce Harper would be a bargain at $500 million

Why Bryce Harper would be a bargain at $500 million

$500 million.

That number is so hard to wrap your brain around, but it's a number a lot of professional baseball players may soon start seeing on their contracts.

One player who could be the first to see that amount within the next year is Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper.

Harper will become a free agent in 2018 and people are already projecting his market value at close to $500 million, if not more.

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton signed a contract back in 2014 for 13 years, $325 million, holding the league record.

For Fancy Stats writer Neil Greenberg, $500 million is a bargain for someone of Harper's caliber.

"Harper is every bit as good [as Stanton] but he's also young," Greenberg told the Sports Junkies Friday.

"I mean, we don't see a player that's as good as Harper, that's as young a Harper, hit the market almost ever I want to say. You look at how many years of his prime he has left and then even if you start to give him just the typical aging curb off of that prime, he's probably worth close to 570 million dollars starting from 2019 and going forward ten years. And that includes also the price of free agency going up and other factors."

Harper, who is only 25 years-old, brings more to a team than just talent. He's one of the most recognizable figures in baseball, bringing tremendous marketing opportunities to an organization. Greenberg dove deeper into how that will increase his market value.

"And that's just for the on-the-field product. You talk about all the marketing that's done around Bryce Harper [and] what he does for the game. In my opinion, and based on the numbers that I saw, he's a bargain at $500 million."

Don't we all wish someone would say $500 million is a bargain for us?

After crunching the numbers, the biggest takeaway for Greenberg is the return on investment the Nationals have gotten out of Harper.

"Like if you look at his wins above replacement throughout his career, he's given you 200 million dollars in value for 21 million dollars in cash and he's due what another 26 or 27 million this year. I mean he's already given you an amazing return on investment."

"So, if you're the Nationals having - benefited from that - you know you have a little bit of, I guess, wiggle room in terms of maybe you're paying a little bit for past performance 'cause, you know, when a player is on arbitration in their early years they don't really get paid that much."

The Nationals still have Harper for one more season and many feel they need to make him an offer sooner than later. Whenever and whoever he gets an offer from, it's going to be a nice pay day for him.