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D'backs 11, Nats 4: Things going from bad to worse

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D'backs 11, Nats 4: Things going from bad to worse

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: If Tuesday night's victory gave Nationals fans reason to calm down and believe things were turning in the right direction, Wednesday night's loss only gave them reason to completely reverse course and now fear the worst. This was among the ugliest games this team has played all season, and it only got worse as the night progressed.

Things started off fine when the Nationals plated a pair of first-inning runs off Rubby De La Rosa. But that's all they managed against the uninspiring Diamondbacks right-hander. Gio Gonzalez, meanwhile, labored to get through five innings on 93 pitches, yet emerged from that allowing only one run thanks to seven strikeouts (all with runners in scoring position).

Then came the top of the sixth inning, at which point the wheels fell off. Gonzalez was pulled after a leadoff single. Aaron Barrett entered and allowed three runs, two on his throwing error. It continued to devolve from that point on, with the Nationals giving up runs on a bases-loaded walk, a 3-run homer and a bases-loaded balk before Tyler Moore was brought in to record the final two outs of the ninth. Yes, Tyler Moore, the second position player ever to pitch in Nats history, both of them coming this season vs. Arizona.

And so the Nationals lost for the fifth time in six games, a span in which the Mets have gone 6-0 and thus now own a 2-game lead in the NL East.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: Everything from the first inning through the eighth inning. The Nationals managed zero runs and four hits after that against Rubby De La Rosa, David Hernandez, Addison Reed and Oliver Perez. Nothing else really to say about that.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: The top of the sixth might as well go down as the worst inning of the Nationals' season. Gonzalez was sitting on 93 pitches after five but hit for himself in the bottom of the inning and took the mound again after that. Except he was pulled after allowing a leadoff single. Enter Barrett, who imploded. The biggest mistake was a horribly wild throw to first base on a sac bunt attempt, the ball rolling all the way past the rolled-up tarp, two runs coming around to score on the play. Barrett wound up facing five batters and allowing four singles, at which point Matt Williams put him out of his misery and called for Roark to clean up the mess. Except Roark issued two straight walks, the latter with the bases loaded. When it was finally over, the Nats' 2-1 lead had turned into a 5-2 deficit that left many in the crowd booing.

KEY STAT: Gonzalez has failed to record an out in the sixth inning seven times in 20 starts this season.

UP NEXT: The series concludes at 4:05 p.m. Thursday when Joe Ross (2-3, 3.00) takes the mound for his seventh career start. Diamondbacks right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 4.95) makes his 129th career start.

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Nationals power through rain delay, come back against Phillies

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USA Today

Nationals power through rain delay, come back against Phillies

WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy's two-run single drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals rallied past the Philadelphia Phillies 8-6 on Sunday night to salvage the finale of the three-game series.

Anthony Rendon homered and doubled, Bryce Harper tied a career high with three doubles and Michael A. Taylor and Murphy each had three singles in a game that was delayed 38 minutes by rain in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams homered for the Phillies, who had won three straight.

Pinch hitter Brian Goodwin led off the eighth with a walk against Victor Arano. With one out, right-hander Seranthony Dominguez (1-2) came on to face Harper, who doubled to right, with Goodwin stopping at third.

After Rendon grounded out, Juan Soto was intentionally walked and Murphy lined a 1-2 pitch to shallow right. Taylor's single made it 8-6.

Ryan Madson (2-3) pitched the eighth inning, and Sean Doolittle finished it for his 21st save.

The Phillies took a 6-2 lead in the fifth on a two-run triple by Odubel Herrera and a two-run homer by Williams.

Washington pulled within a run at 6-5 in the sixth with four two-out hits, including an RBI triple by Trea Turner and RBI doubles by Harper and Rendon.

Nick Pivetta went five innings and allowed two runs on eight hits for the Phillies.

Washington starter Jefry Rodriguez was charged with four runs and five hits in four-plus innings.

The Phillies broke on top on Hoskins's two-run homer in the third.

Rendon made it 2-1 with a solo homer in the fourth. The next three hitters singled, tying the game, but with the rain intensifying, out came the tarp. When play resumed, Pivetta struck out three straight to end the inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Phillies: C Andrew Knapp left in the seventh with a right knee contusion. ... 3B Maikel Franco slipped on first base and fell hard in the eighth. He stayed in to run, but left after the half-inning. ... INF Jesmuel Valent?n was placed on the paternity leave list and OF Dylan Cozens (left quadriceps strain) was reinstated from the 10-day DL.

Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right hamstring strain) allowed 11 runs in 4 2/3 innings of a rehab start at Class A Potomac on Sunday. "I'm more concerned with the way he feels," manager Dave Martinez said, downplaying the results. "We'll go from there." ... RH reliever Brandon Kintzler (right forearm flexor strain) threw a scoreless inning at Potomac. ... RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) played catch on the field again. "We'll keep doing his throwing progression and figure out when he can actually throw from the mound," Martinez said.

UP NEXT

Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (5-7, 4.82) starts the opener of a series against the Yankees on Monday. He is 0-0 with a 3.24 ERA in two games vs. New York.

Nationals: RHP Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08) opens a series at Tampa Bay on Monday. He is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in six games against the Rays.

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Nationals look to avoid sweep against Phillies on Sunday night

Nationals look to avoid sweep against Phillies on Sunday night

WASHINGTON -- Having already won their first series at Nationals Park since April 2016, the Philadelphia Phillies will go for the sweep of Washington on Sunday night.

Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta (4-6, 4.08 ERA) faces Nationals right-hander Jefry Rodriguez (0-0, 4.66).

Pivetta was drafted by the Nationals in 2013 and went to the Phillies in 2015 as part of the Jonathan Papelbon trade.

After struggling for three straight starts -- giving up 13 runs in 14 innings -- Pivetta allowed two runs and four hits in 7 1/3 innings of a no-decision against the St. Louis Cardinals last time out, striking out a career-high 13 batters.

"That's some of the best stuff I've seen him have all year," catcher Andrew Knapp told mlb.com. "The curveball was electric."

Pivetta got 11 swings and misses with the curveball.

"It was nice to have it back," Pivetta told mlb.com. "It all started with my delivery. I was staying up through it, not trying to rush too much and it worked out."

It his first start -- and second big-league appearance -- the 24-year-old Rodriguez picked up a win against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. He allowed five runs, four hits and three walks in five innings.

Rodriguez and Satuday's losing pitcher, Erick Fedde, are filling in for injured starters Stephen Strasburg and Jeremy Hellickson.

The Phillies have outscored the Nationals 17-5 in the fist two games of the series. On Saturday, Maikel Franco had four hits and Carlos Santana homered to back Aaron Nola in a 5-3 victory.

"That was just a tremendous all-around baseball game," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said of Franco. "It's so interesting how we've been looking for him to be not just a hitter but a defender and a baserunner and an all-around athlete."

Franco drove in a run and scored twice, including the go-ahead run when he scored just ahead of the tag on Jesmuel Valentin's sacrifice fly.

The Phillies, who have won six of seven, pounded out double-digit hits for the second day in a row in Washington.

"They have a lot of patient hitters," Fedde said of the Phillies. "I think that's what makes it tough. Guys aren't swinging at bunch of junk, so you have to attack them."

The Phillies have now won four straight series for the first time since May 2016 and are 2-0 in what will be a stretch of 10 games against the Nationals and the New York Yankees.

Anthony Rendon homered and Daniel Murphy had a two-run single for Washington, which has lost three of four while scoring nine runs.

"Look, I've got all the confidence in the world we're going to start hitting," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "We'll start scoring some runs. Right now, the bullpen is a little beat up. We've got to get them going again."

Rendon is doing his part. In his las 15 games, he is batting .382 with seven doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs.

Hellickson (right groin strain) will make a rehab start Sunday for Class A Potomac and then is expected to rejoin the Nationals' rotation.

Hernandez said first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (right oblique strain) is about a week from beginning a rehab assignment.