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Soto, Hicks HRs give Nats, Yanks unusual doubleheader split

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USA Today Sports

Soto, Hicks HRs give Nats, Yanks unusual doubleheader split

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It was a long and odd day, one that started with teenager Juan Soto homering in a game that officially was played before he made his major league debut.

Huh?

Soto delivered a tiebreaking, pinch-hit, two-run shot in the sixth inning of a game that began and was suspended because of rain last month, five days before he was called up from the minors for the first time, to lift the Washington Nationals to a 5-3 victory over the New York Yankees in the opener of an unusual semi-doubleheader Monday.

"Geez, he has a bright future. How old is he, 19? You don't see too many 19-year-olds doing what he's doing," Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said about Soto. "I'm excited to see him develop for years to come."

In Game 2, Judge made two key catches of balls hit by Trea Turner, including one on the warning track that bailed out Aroldis Chapman with two men on in the bottom of the ninth to end it, and the Yankees grabbed a 4-2 victory with the help of Aaron Hicks' go-ahead two-run homer.

That final-out fly "got me to hold my breath for a sec," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Throw in a trade by Washington to add reliever Kelvin Herrera from the Kansas City Royals, full-throated chants of "Let's go, Yankees!" from portions of the sellout crowd of 42,723, and all in all, so much happened at Nationals Park.

"That," Nationals closer Sean Doolittle said, summing up things neatly, "was weird."

Game 1 resumed with the score 3-all and the Nationals about to bat in the bottom of the sixth. After Bryce Harper -- who had a full beard back on May 15, when the game began, but was clean-shaven this time -- struck out, and Anthony Rendon singled, Soto drove a 97 mph fastball from Chad Green (4-1) to the back of the second deck in right field.

"I thought he had a good chance to hit the ball hard," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "That was hard."

It was Soto's sixth homer since he was brought up from Double-A Harrisburg on May 20 -- and half have come against the Yankees. Soto stood and admired this one before beginning his trot around the bases.

"A lot of people tell me, `Hey, you're killing the Yankees,'" Soto said. "Everybody knows the Yankees, likes the Yankees. That feels pretty good."

Soto also was involved in a double play while playing left in the seventh. Didi Gregorius lined to Soto, and he lobbed the ball to shortstop Turner, who sprinted to second base to double off Gary Sanchez.

Soto's stats -- and all others from Game 1 -- will count as being part of the originally scheduled game on May 15, but Soto's debut will still be considered to have come on the actual date it happened, May 20, according to the Nationals, citing the Elias Sports Bureau.

Wander Suero (1-0) got the win for 1 1-3 scoreless innings -- one inning on May 15, and one out on Monday.

Doolittle struck out Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, then got Sanchez to fly out to center in the ninth for his 18th save.

The Nationals had lost five of six games entering the day.

Game 2, which was completely rained out May 16, began a half-hour after Game 1 finished, and Washington led 2-1 before Hicks' ninth homer, which came in the fifth against Erick Fedde (0-2) and got plenty of Yankees fans excited -- and loud.

The rookie righty lost to the Yankees for the second time in less than a week, giving up three runs in 5 1-3 innings this time.

Stanton provided some cushion with an RBI double off Sammy Solis in the seventh, part of a 4-for-5 showing in Game 2.

Sonny Gray (5-4) allowed two runs in five-plus innings, with Mark Reynolds driving in both.

HARPER'S DAY

Harper's batting average is .212 after he went 0 for 5 on Monday, with two strikeouts, three groundouts and a walk. He has one hit in his last 27 at-bats. "He's just in one of those little funks, where you're kind of happy to face him right now," Boone said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: OF Brett Gardner didn't play, a day after an MRI exam showed swelling in his right knee. Boone doesn't expect Gardner to go on the DL.

Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson, on the DL for two weeks with a strained right hamstring, took fielding practice before the start of play Monday and said he "felt fine." Hellickson has taken two bullpen sessions and "felt 100 percent," so expects to be able to return soon. ... 1B Matt Adams was "still a little sore" after getting hit by a pitch on a finger Friday and did not play.

UP NEXT

Yankees: Open a three-game set against visiting Seattle, with RHP Domingo German (1-4, 5.23 ERA) pitching Tuesday.

Nationals: Begin a three-game series at home against Baltimore on Tuesday, with Jefry Rodriguez on the mound for his second major league appearance and first start.

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Nationals' Jeremy Hellickson exits game after collision

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Nationals' Jeremy Hellickson exits game after collision

Washington Nationals right-hander Jeremy Hellickson was removed from Wednesday night's game in St. Louis in the fifth inning after colliding with Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bader at the plate.

Hellickson was covering home after a wild pitch. He stumbled over Bader as Bader slid home safely.

Hellickson was charged with three runs, two earned, on three hits in his 4 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two.

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John Gant homers, pitches Cardinals to 6-4 win over Nationals

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USA TODAY Sports

John Gant homers, pitches Cardinals to 6-4 win over Nationals

ST. LOUIS -- Even John Gant cracked a smile.

Gant homered for his first major league hit and pitched one-run ball into the sixth inning, helping the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 6-4 on Tuesday night for their season-high seventh consecutive victory.

Kolten Wong had three hits and three RBIs as St. Louis (65-55) pulled within four games of the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs and moved within one game of the Philadelphia Phillies for the second NL wild card. The Cardinals also improved to 18-9 since Mike Shildt was named interim manager on July 13, the most wins for a manager through his first 27 games in franchise history.

"Things are starting to click for us," Wong said. "We're playing confident. We're out there playing aggressive and I think it's the kind of baseball Cardinals fans have been waiting for."

The Nationals (60-60) have dropped six of eight to fall eight games behind Atlanta in the NL East.

"We've just got to keep pulling the same rope, keep grinding it out, keep trying to win ballgames," Nationals slugger Bryce Harper said.

Gant (5-4) permitted four hits and struck out six in 5 1/3 innings. He has given up just two earned runs over 11 1/3 innings in his last two starts, both wins.

The 26-year-old Gant was 0 for 30 for his career when he drove a 1-1 pitch from Gio Gonzalez (7-9) over the wall in left in the second. The two-run shot gave Washington a 3-0 lead.

"I was jogging kind of my hands in the air," said Wong, who scored on Gant's homer. "I already knew it was going out. Looking back I think he almost caught me."

Added Gant, "I thought it was going to hit the wall maybe but when I finally looked up and (Wong) was looking back at me, that's when I knew it was going over the wall."

Gant, who has a reputation for being a stoic player, admitted to smiling "once or twice" once he got back to the dugout.

Wong's solo homer made it 6-1 in the sixth, but Washington responded with three in the eighth. Harper hit a two-run shot, and Daniel Murphy singled in Anthony Rendon.

Matt Adams then struck out looking against Dakota Hudson, ending the inning, and Jordan Hicks worked the ninth for his fourth save in eight chances.

Paul DeJong also doubled and scored for St. Louis one night after he connected for a game-ending homer in a 7-6 victory. Matt Carpenter walked in the sixth to extend his on-base streak to 32 games.

"We have a 25-man roster and we have confidence in all of them," Shildt said. "They're here for a reason and guys are looking to contribute every night and in different ways."

Gonzalez was charged with five runs and five hits in four innings. The veteran left-hander is just 1-4 in his last six starts.

"I wasn't hitting my spots," Gonzalez said. "Just not being as consistent in the strike zone as I should be. It's just one of those games you can't explain."

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