Bryce Harper homered for the second time in a week against his former team and the Phillies spotted Aaron Nola a four-run lead, but things fell apart late in a 10-6 loss Tuesday night. Juan Soto delivered the game-winning blow for the Nationals, a towering three-run home run over the foul pole in right field in the 10th inning off left-hander Jose Alvarez.
Earlier in the night, the Phillies built a 6-2 lead on a three-run homer from Harper, a solo shot from Maikel Franco and a two-run triple by Jean Segura, all off Stephen Strasburg.
The Harper home run, his second against his former team in the last seven days, capped off a high-stress third inning for Strasburg, who had cruised through the first two. He lasted just four innings.
With Pat Neshek and David Robertson unavailable after appearing three times each in the last four days, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler turned to Edubray Ramos in the ninth inning to preserve a one-run lead. Ramos came within one strike of recording his second career save when Victor Robles tied the game with a solo shot.
The loss makes the Phillies 7-3 as they go for the series win Wednesday night.
Early offense, another early send-off
Strasburg threw just 20 pitches through two innings but needed 63 to complete the third and fourth and that was his night.
In the third, Franco hit his fourth home run of the season and Harper matched him four batters later.
An inning later, Segura hit a two-run triple to put the Phillies up four runs.
Strasburg had allowed multiple home runs to the Phillies just once in his last 21 starts before Tuesday night. This is, of course, a much different team capable of frustrating young pitchers and established All-Stars alike.
Nola strong until the seventh
There were some questions about Nola coming into this start after a five-walk season debut and a three-homer follow-up.
Early on, he was sharp, allowing a first-inning run but maxing out at 95.7 mph after registering a top speed of 94.0 mph in his most recent start, his lowest max speed in 34 starts.
Nola allowed single runs in the first and sixth innings before a rocky seventh. A Franco throwing error began the inning, Yan Gomes followed with a two-run homer and pinch-hitter Howie Kendrick went deep two batters later.
Through three starts, Nola is 1-0 with a 6.46 ERA.
The schedule always seems to align for Nola to face the Nationals. This was his 17th career start against them compared to 10 vs. the Marlins and nine vs. the Mets.
Mostly solid infield defense
Prior to Franco's costly seventh-inning error, the Phillies' infield did serious work behind Nola. Rhys Hoskins had a diving catch at first base, Franco made a diving stop at third, Segura charged and barehanded a dribbler to nab a baserunner and later ranged up the middle and fired a strike to get the speedy Adam Eaton.
Beyond that, the Phillies turned two double plays, including one that Nola started on a sharp comebacker.
The Phillies finish up the three-game series against the Nationals Wednesday night at 7:05.
It's Nick Pivetta (1-0, 6.52) against former Phillie Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 9.00).
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