Angry boos drown out cheers on an emotional night at the ballpark as Phillies give away lead vs. Nationals

Angry boos drown out cheers on an emotional night at the ballpark as Phillies give away lead vs. Nationals

Maybe it was the simple fact that there was a big, sellout crowd in the ballpark for Jimmy Rollins’ retirement ceremony. Maybe it was because the rebuild is over, the stakes are higher and the fans are more engaged now.

Whatever the case, the boos were louder and more frequent at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night than they have been in some time.

And so were the cheers.

It was that kind of night for the Phillies and their fans — the thrill of a dramatic five-run rally in the seventh inning, the agony of giving it all away an inning later.

“Tough loss on a really special night for Jimmy,” manager Gabe Kapler said after his club let one get away in a wild, 10-8 loss to the Washington Nationals (see observations).

The Nationals, down 8-5 entering the eighth inning, rallied for four runs in that inning to take the lead for good.

The Nats put two men on base against veteran Pat Neshek in the frame. With two outs, Kapler pulled Neshek in favor of lefty Adam Morgan.

One night after setting a club record with his 16th straight scoreless appearance to open a season, Morgan gave up a three-run homer to pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki and a solo shot to Victor Robles as the Nats surged into the lead.

Faced with the decision of having Neshek try to clean up his own mess against lefty-hitting Andrew Stevenson or go to Morgan and have the Nats respond with the right-handed hitting Suzuki, Kapler chose the former.

“In that situation you like a fresh Morgan who's been arguably your best pitcher all year against a pinch-hitter,” Kapler said. “That's the way you make them make the move.”

Morgan threw Suzuki two changeups. The second one went out of the park. Robles then hit a 1-0 fastball. The crowd booed loudly as each home run settled into the seats.

Previously, Morgan had given up just five hits in 12 2/3 innings.

“Any loss is tough, but to lose it like that was pretty hard,” Morgan said.

Morgan was not the only ineffective Phillies reliever. Juan Nicasio was nicked for two infield hits in the seventh then threw away a bunt as the Nats scored two unearned runs to take the lead before the Phillies got it right back in the bottom of the inning on four RBI doubles. Kapler had been watching Seranthony Dominguez’ workload so he gave Nicasio the ball in that situation.

“Ultimately, you have to trust your pitchers and not just the same pitchers you use to win a game every night,” Kapler said. “You've got to trust your entire bullpen and we trusted Nicasio there.”

Nicasio has allowed 24 base runners in 15 1/3 innings. How much longer can he be trusted?  

Jake Arrieta pitched six innings and gave up three runs. He was lifted for pinch-hitter Cesar Hernandez with one out and runners at second and third in the sixth. Hernandez struck out feebly against Patrick Corbin and Andrew McCutchen struck out looking. End of threat.

Kapler said it was a tough call to pinch-hit for Arrieta in a tie game.

“It really was,” he said. “He was pitching really well. But the one thing that I maintain is that we're going to be aggressive at every turn. We're going to try to win games when we have a chance to win ballgames. In that situation with a runner on second and third with one out, it was pretty much the only situation we were going to hit for him. Maybe bases loaded, nobody out a chance to break the game open, a chance to turn the tides. We were going to take advantage of that. Same thing with our bullpen usage. If we have a chance to win baseball games, we're going to go after them. We're going to go after them hard, we're going to go after them aggressively and I'm not going to come off that position.”

The loss left the Phils at 18-14.

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Nationals 10, Phillies 8: Phillies' rally for naught as Adam Morgan finally hit hard

Nationals 10, Phillies 8: Phillies' rally for naught as Adam Morgan finally hit hard

BOX SCORE 

The Phillies have suffered a few brutal losses this season. This was another.

The Phils rallied for five runs in the bottom of the seventh to take a three-run lead then quickly gave that lead right back in a demoralizing 10-8 loss to the Washington Nationals on Saturday night.

Relievers Pat Neshek and Adam Morgan failed to protect a three-run lead in the top of the eighth. They combined to give up four runs. Morgan relieved Neshek with two men on base and two outs in the eighth. He promptly gave up a game-tying, three-run homer to Kurt Suzuki. Victor Robles followed with a solo homer to right to give the Nats the lead.

The sellout crowd booed loudly on both home runs. Morgan had been the Phillies’ best reliever this season before the difficult inning. He had not allowed a run in 16 previous outings this season.

The loss hurt because the Phils staged a dramatic rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to take the lead. Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, Sean Rodriguez and Phil Gosselin all had RBI doubles in that inning. Realmuto’s two-run double put the Phils ahead.

Briefly.

The loss left the Phils at 18-14.

Washington is 14-18.

The keys

• Phillies starter Jake Arrieta and reliever Juan Nicasio both made costly errors that led to a total of three unearned runs.

• In addition to sloppy defense, the Phils had missed chances, including a big one in the bottom of the sixth. They had runners on second and third with one out in a tie game and Patrick Corbin’s pitch count had climbed over 100. Manager Gabe Kapler sent up Cesar Hernandez to pinch-hit. Hernandez struck out feebly and was booed. Andrew McCutchen then took a called third strike. End of threat.

• Moments after the Phillies’ blown opportunity in the sixth, the Nats scored two unearned runs to take the lead in the top of the seventh. Washington’s first two batters of the frame reached on infield hits and both scored when Phillies’ reliever Nicasio made an errant throw to first base on a bunt.

Arrieta’s night

The right-hander went six innings and gave up three runs, one of which was unearned. He walked one and struck out seven. 

Arrieta has pitched at least six innings and allowed no more than three earned runs in six of seven starts.

Sights and sounds

A sellout crowd of 43,319 showed up for Jimmy Rollins’ retirement ceremony. The crowd cheered with that old electricity when the Phillies rallied for five runs in the seventh and booed with plenty of angry gusto when the Phils gave up the lead in the eighth.

Of note

Jean Segura had his 12th multi-hit game. Hoskins has at least one RBI in six straight games. He leads the team with 29.

Hats off to Jimmy

Rollins reflected on his career before the game (see story).

Up next

The series and the homestand concludes on Sunday afternoon. Zach Eflin (3-3, 3.34) pitches for the Phillies against Anibal Sanchez (0-4, 5.91). First pitch is 2 p.m.

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Rhys Hoskins puts the numbers through the wood chipper, makes Nationals pay

Rhys Hoskins puts the numbers through the wood chipper, makes Nationals pay

Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez went with the numbers in having a left-handed reliever face Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins with the game on the line Friday night.

Hoskins put those numbers through the wood chipper and when the night ended, the only number that mattered was this:

Phillies 4, Nationals 2.

Hoskins rescued his team from a one-run deficit with a three-run home run with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. Adam Morgan, Pat Neshek and Hector Neris protected the lead as the Phillies improved to 5-2 on the homestand (with two games remaining), 13-6 at home and 18-13 overall. That's the best mark in the NL East (see observations).

"Today, Rhys won the baseball game for us," manager Gabe Kapler said.

Martinez, the Washington manager, did not think Hoskins could win it for the Phillies. That's why he stuck with lefty reliever Dan Jennings against the right-handed hitting Hoskins after Jennings had walked Bryce Harper, the previous hitter, on five pitches to put runners on first and second.

Hoskins hit a 1-1 slider into the left-field seats to give the Phillies the lead.

After the game, Martinez told reporters he was comfortable using Jennings because Hoskins was 0 for 17 with nine strikeouts in his career against sliders thrown by left-handed pitchers.

Overall this season, Hoskins was hitting just .240 with nine strikeouts in 25 at-bats against left-handed pitching as opposed to .289 with a 1.055 OPS against right-handed pitching.

"My reverse splits are frustrating to me because I've usually hit lefties well in my career," Hoskins said. "I was just excited to finally do some damage against a lefty."

Hoskins has 62 homers since his big-league debut on Aug. 10, 2017. That is the most in the NL over that span. Thirty-four of the 62 have either tied the game or given the Phillies a lead.

"It just so happens that I get to be in those spots more often than other guys," Hoskins said. "My job is to drive in runs. But I can only do that if the guys are getting on base."

The Phillies did that in the sixth. Jean Segura, who had another big game with a solo homer in the first inning, started the rally with an infield hit against starter Jeremy Hellickson. Martinez went to Jennings against the lefty Harper. Jennings wanted no part of Harper and Hoskins made the Nationals pay.

It's what a deep lineup is supposed to do.

"The guy is pretty good," Hoskins said of Harper. "I'd probably pitch around him too. At any moment, he can hit one out of the park. The way this lineup is constructed, it's pick your poison. If I don't get the job done, we have an All-Star hitter behind me. I just happened to be the poison they picked tonight."

The Phillies are catching the Nationals at a time when they are down several key players.

Trea Turner, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon are all on the injured list and Juan Soto did not play Friday night because of back spasms.

"It doesn't matter who's in there, it's a game we have to win," Hoskins said. "Winning games at home against the division is important."

Jerad Eickhoff pitched five innings and allowed just one run. He did not figure in the decision. He was lifted at 87 pitches because after an injury-marred season last year, the Phils are still monitoring his workload, Kapler said.

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