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Instant analysis: Phillies 4, Nats 2

Instant analysis: Phillies 4, Nats 2

Game in a nutshell: Who says Roy Halladay isn't still Roy Halladay? He sure looked like his old, Cy Young self tonight, cruising through the Nationals lineup with ease. His only blip: a two-run single surrendered to Steve Lombardozzi in the fifth, with Kurt Suzuki pulling off a nifty slide around catcher Erik Kratz to score the second run. Otherwise, Halladay was brilliant, out-dueling Gio Gonzalez, who gave up two runs in the first and then gave up the go-ahead run on John Mayberry Jr.'s leadoff homer in the sixth. Now trailing by a run, the Nationals couldn't muster anymore offense against Halladay or the Phillies bullpen, then gave up a costly insurance run in the eighth when Chase Utley was hit by a pitch, stole second and third bases and scored on Mayberry's sacrifice fly. Thus the Nationals lost their second straight 4-2 game in this ballpark and their third game in a row overall, seeing their lead over the Braves slip to 5 12 games in the process.

Hitting lowlight: They didn't have very many chances against Halladay, so the Nationals might have figured they'd have a better opportunity to score the tying (or go-ahead run) off the Phillies bullpen. They didn't. Left-hander Antonio Bastardo (who entered with a 5.35 ERA) struck out the side in the top of the eighth, getting Bryce Harper to whiff at a 90 mph high fastball, Ryan Zimmerman to swing and miss at a 93 mph outside fastball and Adam LaRoche to flail away at a 3-2 offspeed pitch. That seemed to sum up the Nationals' night at the plate. When they needed to get something going against a beatable pitcher, they couldn't even put the ball in play.

Pitching highlightlowlight: The way his night began, Gonzalez appeared to be in serious trouble. He gave up two runs in the top of the first, throwing 31 pitches and falling behind just about everyone. But to his credit, the left-hander battled his way back to a quality start. He found the strike zone with more regularity, made more Phillies swing and miss and kept his pitch count to a relative minimum. Then one costly mistake to open the sixth inning: a high fastball to Mayberry spoiled Gonzalez's night. That solo homer broke a 2-2 tie, put the Nats in a hole and prevented Gio from a shot at earning his league-leading 17th win of the season.

Key stat: Halladay threw 86 of his 105 pitches for strikes tonight, an 82 percent rate.

Up next: The series concludes Sunday afternoon when Jordan Zimmermann (coming off his worst start of the season) faces Cliff Lee at 1:35 p.m.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.