The Phillies salvaged a game against the Washington Nationals with an 8-6 win at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night.
The Phils, who lost the first two games of the series under the weight of poor defense and other miscues, blew two leads in the game, but ultimately held on to their last one.
Newcomer Jose Bautista, who started in right field, gave the Phils their last lead with a two-out RBI single in the seventh, breaking a 6-6 tie.
Bautista reached base four times. In addition to the single, he was hit by a pitch and walked twice.
The win was just the Phillies’ third in the last 11 games. They entered the night trailing first-place Atlanta by 4½ games in the NL East. The Braves were losing to Miami as the Phillies’ game ended, so the Phils had a chance to make up some ground.
Jake Arrieta delivered in one phase of the game as he stroked a two-out, two-run single to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately for the Phillies, Arrieta did not deliver in the phase of the game where they needed him most.
After giving his team that 2-0 lead in the second, Arrieta was lit up for four runs on a pair of two-run homers in the top of the third. He allowed a one-out triple to Adam Eaton before Trea Turner homered, then a walk to Anthony Rendon before Juan Soto homered on a 3-0 fastball.
Arrieta was gone after three innings. He didn’t fool many hitters. He threw 75 pitches and got just one swing and miss. Three of the four hits he allowed were for extra bases, a triple and two homers.
The Phillies are already on shaky ground. To get out of it, they need a lot of things to happen, including Arrieta to pitch a lot better than this in September.
Everybody in the pool
After Arrieta was KO’ed early, manager Gabe Kapler employed a merry-go-round bullpen. He used seven of his eight relievers. Tommy Hunter pitched out of trouble and got three big outs to protect a one-run lead in the eighth. Roman Quinn (triple) and Rhys Hoskins (double) had big hits in the bottom of the eighth to give Hunter another run and some cushion in the ninth. He got the job done and the save — with shortstop Scott Kingery making a fielding gem for the second out in the ninth.
The bullpen will benefit from Thursday’s off day.
Carlos Santana goes by the nickname “Slamtana.” He was literally that guy when he stroked a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Phillies a 6-5 lead.
The lead did not last long as Victor Arano gave up a run in the sixth. Arano gave up two singles and struck out a batter. The run was unearned after a passed ball was charged to catcher Wilson Ramos.
Santana is second on the team with 77 RBIs and he has 20 homers. He is not a favorite of the fans because of his paltry .222 batting average, but they sure liked his home run.
The paid crowd was just 22,252. It was the biggest of the series.
Hector to protector
Hector Neris faced two batters in a tie game in the sixth and struck both of them out. Since returning from Triple A, he has pitched eight scoreless innings, striking out 18 of 29. Neris’ confidence was shattered and his splitter was hanging when he went down in early July. Both are back.
The Nationals have hit 24 homers against the Phillies in 16 games this season.
The Phillies made a slight adjustment to their rotation to optimize Aaron Nola in the month of September (see story). It could help Nola’s Cy Young chances. The Phils need to get hot for it to matter in the playoff race.
The Phillies are off Thursday. They return to work for another tough series against the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs starting Friday. Cole Hamels will not pitch in the series for Chicago and that’s a good thing for the Phillies. He is 4-0 with an 0.69 ERA in six starts since joining the Cubs in a trade from Texas.
Here are the pitching matchups for the series:
Friday night — RHP Nick Pivetta (7-10, 4.76) vs. LHP Jose Quintana (11-9, 4.33)
Saturday night — RHP Zach Eflin (9-5, 3.99) vs. Kyle Hendricks (10-10, 3.86)
Sunday afternoon — RHP Aaron Nola (15-3, 2.10) vs. LHP Jon Lester (14-5, 3.67).