The Phillies began a three-game series in Washington with a 8-3 victory over the defending World Series champion Nationals on Tuesday night.
The victory was the Phils’ second in a row as they ran their record to 11-14.
Washington is 11-16.
From good starting pitching and relief work to clutch hitting, the Phillies did a number of things well in the game.
J.T. Realmuto led the offense with a three-run homer to highlight a four-run third inning. Jean Segura had three hits and provided some cushion with a two-run single in the top of the ninth.
Phillies hitters had 12 hits, drew five walks and struck out just four times against six Washington pitchers.
Starter Jake Arrieta turned in a very nice effort. He only went five innings, but that wasn’t his fault. It was Mother Nature’s. Arrieta was cruising along at 54 pitches, keeping the ball on the ground and getting double plays (three of them) when the skies opened and the game was delayed 72 minutes by rain.
Arrieta did not return when the rain stopped. He exited with a 4-1 lead and the bullpen took care of the rest.
Arrieta had struggled in his previous two outings. He did not make it through the fifth in either one of them and allowed a total of eight runs. He gave up just one run in this one — on a leadoff homer by Trea Turner. Otherwise, Arrieta was very good, holding the Nats to two hits and a walk the remainder of his stay. He struck out just one but got 10 ground outs thanks to pitches down in the zone.
The Phillies need more outings like this from Arrieta if they are going to make a run.
Bend don't break
The bullpen needed to pick up 12 outs after the rain delay and it got the job done. It wasn’t always pretty. Hector Neris teetered in the eighth but Adam Morgan got him out of it. Newcomer Heath Hembree got two quick outs in the sixth then allowed a solo homer. Tommy Hunter threw the ball well for the second straight outing and got four important outs after Hembree exited.
Blake Parker allowed a run in an arduous ninth on his way to closing it out.
Containing a hot bat
Washington’s Juan Soto entered the game hitting .400 with seven homers and 17 RBIs. He had a .815 slugging percentage and 1.302 OPS, both tops in the majors. Phillies pitching held him hitless with a walk in three official at-bats.
Not all was good
The Phillies made three infield errors. Defense has not been a strength recently.
It’s been a difficult first few weeks of the season for Scott Kingery. His struggles at the plate hastened the promotion of Alec Bohm from the minors, a move that cost Kingery reps at second base when Segura had to move there from third.
Kingery, who has gotten recent time in center field, was back at second in this game as Segura played third and Bohm served as the designated hitter.
Kingery seemed to play with a little more aggressiveness and confidence. He made a lightning quick turn on a double play — after a nice play and feed by Segura — to help Arrieta get out of trouble in the bottom of the second inning.
Then, with one out in the third, Kingery lined a first-pitch double to left field and scored on a hit by Andrew McCutchen. The double was Kingery’s first extra-base hit of the season. He had entered the night with just seven singles in 61 at-bats for a .115 average.
Realmuto goes deep
Kingery’s hit in the third started a four-run rally that was capped by Realmuto’s three-run home run. Realmuto lifted a ball to right field that kept carrying and carrying and finally hit off the top of the wall and bounced over for his ninth home run. Realmuto leads the Phils with 25 RBIs.
A few items
Reliever Deolis Guerra, designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers and will stay with the organization at the Lehigh Valley training site.
Dependable reliever Jose Alvarez is going to be out for a while.
The series continues on Wednesday night with Aaron Nola (2-2, 3.10) opposing Washington lefty Patrick Corbin (2-2, 3.99). Corbin was 2-0 with a 2.88 ERA in four starts against the Phillies last season. He struck out 30 in 25 innings