Sat, Jun 3, 2023 1:47 PM
By HARVEY VALENTINE, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — J.T. Realmuto hit a tiebreaking home run in the sixth inning and the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Washington Nationals 4-2 on Saturday to snap a five-game losing streak.
Realmuto, Bryce Harper and Josh Harrison each had two hits for the Phillies, who began the day tied with the Nationals for last place in the NL East.
Realmuto doubled and scored in the second inning before homering into the Phillies bullpen in left center leading off the sixth. Since his last two-hit game on May 17, he was 3 for 43 (.070) with one extra-base hit and no RBIs.
“Did a lot of work before the game in the cage trying to clean up my bat path a little bit, get on time a little better and try not to lose my barrel in my swing,” Realmuto said. “Felt a little better out there today.”
Philadelphia used seven pitchers in a bullpen game and they held Washington to seven hits, all singles, while striking our four and walking two. Dylan Covey (1-1) worked two innings for the win. Matt Strahm set the tone with two perfect innings to open and Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his eighth save.
“The biggest thing was everybody came in and threw strikes,” Realmuto said. “I feel like we got a lot of first-pitch outs. A lot of 0-1 counts, lot of 0-2 counts. Everyone just came in and pounded the strike zone.”
Washington starter MacKenzie Gore (3-4) went six innings and gave up three runs and nine hits. He struck out six without a walk.
Harrison gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead when his second-inning single scored Realmuto. Trea Turner's double scored Edmundo Rosa to make it 2-0 in the third.
Consecutive singles by Joey Meneses, Dominic Smith and Keibert Ruiz plated Washington's first run in the fourth. CJ Abrams then grounded to first. Drew Ellis stepped on the bag to get Abrams, and Smith scored the tying run before Ruiz was tagged out to complete the double play.
Washington's Lane Thomas was called out on strikes with two runners on base in the third inning and one on in the fifth. Both pitches appeared out of the strike zone.
“Let's be honest, they were horrible," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of the called strikes by umpire Ben May. "We're gonna be honest about that one. It was two horrific calls. It stinks as a hitter. You go there battling and you get called strikes like that.”
Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of Rob Thomson replacing Joe Girardi as the Phillies manager and ultimately leading the team to the World Series.
“A lot of good and some bad,” Thomson said of the past year. “Last year’s run was pretty incredible really and I think we all enjoyed it so much. And so far this year, we’ve struggled a little bit to start the season, but I expect us to turn it around like we did last year.”
HELLO, OLD FRIENDS
The Phillies' lineup featured four former Nationals. In addition to regulars Harper, Turner and Kyle Schwarber, Harrison played second base. He hit .291 in 123 games for Washington in 2020 and 2021 before being traded to Oakland in July 2021.
Phillies: LHP Ranger Suárez (0-2, 7.13) makes his fifth start since coming off the injured list May 13. On Tuesday, he pitched a season-high 6 2/3 innings against the Mets, allowing two runs on five hits.
Nationals: RHP Trevor Williams (2-3, 3.93) pitched six scoreless innings over two appearances – one start – against the Phillies in 2022.