Updated: 11:19 p.m.
Two runs in 18 innings didn’t cut it for the Phillies Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
The Phils fell to the Nationals in the second game of their doubleheader, 2-0. They lost in the afternoon, 6-2 (see observations).
Brian Dozier crushed a 3-2 sinker from Jake Arrieta that split the plate over the left-field wall in the second inning to give the Nationals the lead. The only other hit Arrieta allowed in his six innings was a fourth-inning single by Adam Eaton.
Victor Robles added an insurance run in the eighth inning with a homer off Pat Neshek.
Max Scherzer outdueled Arrieta in a contest between former Cy Young Award winners, throwing seven scoreless innings and recording 10 strikeouts.
The Phillies are 39-34, four games behind the Braves in the NL East.
Quite a sight
Scherzer started despite breaking his nose in batting practice Tuesday, when he bunted a foul ball against his face.
He took the mound looking like he’d already been through a fight or two, with a dark bruise encircling his right eye.
Jean Segura led off with a single that could have been a double had he run hard out of the box. Juan Soto dove and failed to catch Segura’s bloop to shallow left field, but Segura settled for a single despite the ball ending up behind Soto. Segura was stranded on third base when Scherzer struck out Rhys Hoskins looking on a 3-2 breaking ball to end the inning.
It was a missed opportunity for the Phillies’ offense against Scherzer, who’s allowed 10 first-inning runs in 16 starts this season and pitched like the three-time Cy Young Award winner he is once he escaped the early trouble.
Outside of his lapse to Dozier, Arrieta was excellent.
He induced just one swinging strike on 48 sinkers but spotted the pitch well down in the zone. Ten of Arrieta’s 18 outs came via the ground ball.
Manager Gabe Kapler elected to pinch-hit for Arrieta in the top of the seventh, sending J.T. Realmuto to the plate with two outs and Cesar Hernandez on second base. Realmuto struck out swinging.
Tip of the cap
Like Arrieta, Scherzer pitched very, very well. His electric stuff helped him power through the Phillies’ best threat of the night.
He worked around Hernandez’s leadoff double in the seventh by getting Brad Miller to swing through a 97.5 mph, 3-2 fastball, striking out Andrew Knapp on a 96.7 fastball and baffling Realmuto with a wipeout slider on his 117th and final pitch of the night.
A nightmare return
Neshek's first game back from the injured list couldn't have gone much worse. After serving up a one-out home run to Robles, Neshek got Kurt Suzuki to fly out to left field. He then grimaced following a 1-0 sinker to Trea Turner that missed outside. Neshek left the game with a limp.
Kapler told reporters after the game that Neshek has a left hamstring strain and will "likely" go on the IL again.
Seeing the ball well … just not hitting it
Bryce Harper was hitless in the doubleheader, though he did walk four times. He saw 16 pitches in three plate appearances against Scherzer.
Harper’s struggles against the fastball continued as he swung through or fouled off four heaters in the heart of the zone.
Still no sign of Franco
Maikel Franco started neither game of the doubleheader. Scott Kingery played third base in the afternoon, Miller in the nightcap. In June, Franco is hitting .143 (4 for 28). His last multi-hit game was on May 13, and it appears he’s no longer a regular option for Kapler.
The Phillies wrap up their series against the Nationals Thursday night (7:05 p.m./NBCSP).
They begin a seven-game homestand Friday with the first matchup of a three-game set vs. the last-place Marlins.
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