Phillies' bullpen coughs up lead in loss to Nationals

Phillies' bullpen coughs up lead in loss to Nationals

WASHINGTON – Gabe Kapler dug into his bullpen Sunday night, trying to find the right “dude” to record the five outs the Phillies needed to complete a sweep of the Nationals.

Bryce Harper waited on deck and the Phillies were ahead by a run in the eighth inning. A day earlier, the manager rolled with Adam Morgan in the eighth to retire Harper. Kapler warmed up Morgan on Sunday but instead called on Seranthony Dominguez, his most trusted arm in the pen.

But Dominguez cracked on Sunday. Harper greeted the rookie with a double to right field and the seeds off an 8-6 Phillies loss were planted.

Anthony Rendon grounded out into the shift and Kapler elected to load the bases by intentionally walking Nationals rookie Juan Soto. Daniel Murphy dropped a two-run single over second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who was nearly placed in perfect position to make the catch in shallow right. Michael A. Taylor added an RBI single and the Nats — once five outs from being swept — had a two-run lead.

It was a tough loss that soured what was looking to be the perfect weekend. It was the Phillies’ first game on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” since 2013. They started it by building a four-run lead and appeared to be on their way to a sweep before they watched the bullpen blow it.

Edubray Ramos and Austin Davis struggled in the sixth as the four-run lead dwindled to just one. It looked all but lost in the seventh before Tommy Hunter escaped a jam with a needed double-play. There would be no escaping the eighth. Victor Arano walked his first batter and then picked up an out before Dominguez entered. Five batters later, Kapler walked to the mound to lift his top arm.

The Phillies jumped to their four-run lead on two-run hits from Hoskins, Herrera, and Nick Williams. Hoskins homered in the third, Herrera tripled in the fifth, and Williams homered two batters later. Herrera had two hits and has seven multi-hit games in the last 10 days. Hoskins went 2 for 4 and has five homers since returning from the disabled list.

The loss also came with injuries. Maikel Franco left the game in the seventh after slipping on first base and was replaced at third by Mitch Walding. Andrew Knapp, who started for the second time in three days, left the game with a bruised right knee. The Phillies do not have another catcher on the 40-man roster.

This weekend was the start of a crucial 10-game test as the Phillies play seven games against the Nationals and three against the Yankees. Even with Sunday’s loss, they passed the first challenge and have won four straight series. A new challenge awaits on Monday when the Yankees visit South Philly for the first time since 2006.

“My dad is a very-even keeled person. There were never a lot of highs and lows from my dad and he was the strongest male influence in my life. I feel the same way,” Kapler said before Sunday’s game. “The things that are happening around me or around us are happening around us and not in front of us. We just stay even. We don’t ride ups and downs. There’s going to be another stormy stretch of baseball and when that comes, we’ll stay the course and stay even.”

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Published at Mon, 25 Jun 2018 04:48:47 +0000

Categories: Phillies

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