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Nationals drop 12-5 decision to Phillies: Jonathan Papelbon and Bryce Harper brawl in dugout

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The Washington Nationals dropped the series finale to the Philadelphia Phillies, 12-5, but all anyone will be talking about is the dugout brawl between Bryce Harper and Nats' closer Jonathan Papelbon which followed a Harper pop-out in the 8th.

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5. Gio's last in D.C.: Gio Gonzalez's last start before this afternoon's in the series finale with the Philadelphia Phillies, lasted just 4 ⅔ innings, over which he gave up six hits, two walks and four runs in a 4-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

Gonzalez suffered his first loss since August 26th that night, snapping a four-start unbeaten streak.

"The innings that he had trouble the ball was just up in the strike zone. The ball to [Steve] Pearce was up, and certainly not where he wanted it." -Matt Williams on Gio Gonzalez's struggles vs Baltimore

In those outings between losses, the 29-year-old left-hander had a 2.22 ERA, 11 walks (4.07 BB/9) and 30 Ks (11.10 K/9) in 24 ⅓ IP, holding opposing hitters to a .186/.278/.221 line.

In his start against the Orioles, two walks in the second and back-to-back singles by the opposing pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Nolan Reimold got the O's out to a 2-0 lead and Chris Davis and Steve Pearce hit back-to-back RBI doubles in the fifth, putting Baltimore up by three.

"The inning he gave up the two, two walks started it," Matt Williams said.

"And then, of course, the pitcher got a hit, the next guy got a hit. That's two. And then just -- the innings that he had trouble the ball was just up in the strike zone. The ball to Pearce was up, and certainly not where he wanted it."

"He left a couple pitches right there," catcher Jose Lobaton told reporters.

"I didn't think he threw that bad today," Lobaton said.

"He got a couple hits, Davis was late with the fastball and found the line and then he missed a couple pitches, but overall, I didn't think he threw that bad, he just battled and he couldn't finish."

Gonzalez entered today's start (11-8) on the year with a 3.94 ERA, a 3.09 FIP, 64 walks (3.50 BB/9), 159 Ks (8.69 K/9) and a .267/.338/.381 line against in 29 starts and 164 ⅔ IP.

This afternoon, he was taking on the Phillies for the fourth time this season after striking out 12 in seven innings last week in Citizens Bank Park.

His final home start of the season began with a quick, 12-pitch, 1-2-3 frame.

Jeff Francoeur doubled to the base of the out-of-town scoreboard with one out in the Phillies' second, but he was stranded there two outs later. 17-pitch second for Gonzalez, 29 total after two.

Given a 2-0 lead to work with, Gonzalez retired the Phillies in order in an 11-pitch third. 40 total after three.

Two Ks and a groundout to third got the Nationals' lefty through another quick frame. 14-pitch fourth, 54 total.

Jeff Francoeur and Erik Kratz hit back-to-back singles in the Phillies' half of the fifth, but a fly to right and a 4-6-3 got Gonzalez through another scoreless inning. 17-pitch frame, 71 total.

Aaron Harang and Freddy Galvis hit back-to-back singles to start the top of the sixth and an infield single by Andres Blanco loaded the base with no one out before Aaron Altherr worked the count full and walked, forcing in the first run of the game for the Phillies, 2-1. The second bases-loaded free pass, this one to Darin Ruf, ended Gonzalez's outing...

• Gio Gonzalez's Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 89 P, 55 S, 7/1 GO/FO.

4. Harangagain: Aaron Harang, 37, and a veteran of 14 major league campaigns, beat the Washington Nationals the first time he faced them this season, back on April 18th, giving up seven hits, two walks and three earned runs over six innings of work on the mound.

Harang took the loss in a May 24th outing, however, giving up seven hits, two walks and two earned runs in six innings, then gave up nine hits and five runs, four earned in six innings in another loss on June 26th.

The three starts this season left the righty (4-7) in 16 career starts against the Expos/Nationals with a 3.33 ERA, 29 walks (2.76 BB/9), 72 Ks (6.85 K/9) and a .287/.337/.455 line agaisnst in 94 ⅔ IP against Montreal/Washington hitters.

With a win over the Marlins in his last start before today's, Harang snapped an eight-start losing streak that stretched back to August 5th, over which he had a 7.80 ERA, 19 walks (4.01 BB/9) and 25 Ks (5.27 K/9) in 42 ⅔ IP in which opposing hitters had a .313/.380/.592 line.

Harang's win in Miami was one of two in his last eighteen outings. He hadn't won two straight all season going into today's start in the series finale with the Nationals.

Entering the season finale between the NL East rivals in D.C., he was (6-15) on the year with a 4.93 ERA, a 4.74 FIP, 49 walks (2.74 BB/9) and 104 Ks (5.83 K/9) in 160 ⅔ IP over which he'd held opposing hitters to a .274/.335/.468 line.

Harang's fourth start of the season against the Nationals began with a fly to right by Michael Taylor and a one-out walk by Anthony Rendon, but Bryce Harper grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 to end the first. 16-pitch first.

Harang retired the first two batters he faced in the second, but a 2-1 slider to Ian Desmond bounced off the facade of the second deck in right for a solo blast, Desmond's 19th, and Matt den Dekker went back-to-back with the Nats' shortstop, crushing a first-pitch fastball for his fourth home run of the season. 2-0 Nationals.

Harang with a 13-pitch second, 29 total for the Phillies' righty after two.

Gio Gonzalez singled to start the third but was stranded at the end of a 17-pitch third by Harang, who was up to 46 total after three.

Ian Desmond singled with two down in the fourth, reaching first on a chopper over the mound, and took third on a single to left-center by Matt den Dekker, but Jose Lobaton grounded out to second to end a 20-pitch fourth. 66 total.

An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left Harang at 77 pitches, down 2-0. A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth left him at 89 pitches.

• Aaron Harang's Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 2 HRs, 89 P, 55 S, 4/6 GO/FO.

3. Random Game Notes: After the Phillies took the season series with the Nationals last season (10-9) for the first time since 2010, the Nationals have taken 12 of 18 from their NL East rivals this season, giving them a 41-33 edge since 2012.

• Philadelphia, however, has a 112-90 advantage in the all-time series, going back to 2005.

• Bryce Harper, who set the Nationals' (2005-present) for walks in a season last week, tied the franchise record with his 123rd walk of the season on Saturday. One more and he'll pass the Expos' Ken Singleton, who took 123 walks in 1973.

• Harper's also close to passing Alfonso Soriano for the most runs scored in a season for the Nationals (2005-present). He has 117 so far, two shy of Soriano's 119 in 2006.

• Heading into today's game, Harper led the NL in AVG (.339), OBP (.470), SLG (.663), runs scored (117), HRs (41), and Wins Above Replacement (9.8 fWAR).

• After yesterday's start, and since returning from the DL on August 8th, in today's "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment, Stephen Strasburg ranks first in the NL in Ks (85), K/BB ratio (12.14) and K/9 (12.68), and ranks second in the National League in WHIP (0.71) and BAA (.170).

• The Nationals have outscored (74-60) and outhomered the Phillies (22-13) in their 18 games this season.

• Today is the Phillies' final road game of the season, unfortunately for them, their 55th loss away from Philadelphia yesterday gave them their most road losses in a season (55) since 1942, when they lost 58.

• In today's Phillies-centric "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Philadelphia's starters have posted a 1.59 ERA... in their last eight games, allowing 2 ER or less in each of those outings, though the Phillies are just 2-6 over that stretch.

• A win in this afternoon's series and season finale between the Nationals and Phillies would give Philadelphia just their third series win in D.C. since 2012.

2. Turning Point(s): When Nationals' shortstop Ian Desmond hit just seven home runs over 84 games and 348 plate appearances in the first half of this season, it looked like he might fall short of a 20-HR season for the first time since 2011, but the 29-year-old, soon-to-be-free agent turned the power on in the second half and his two-out home run in the second inning today was no.12 in in 67 games and 272 PAs so far since the All-Star Break, leaving him one short of another 20-homer campaign.

Matt den Dekker followed with another home run in the next at bat, putting the Nationals up 2-0 on the Phillies and Aaron Harang after two.

• Gio Gonzalez started the game with five scoreless innings, but back-to-back-to-back singles and back-to-back bases-loadeds walks tied the game up at two and ended the left-hander's day. 2-2 game.

• [ed. note - "Check below for the exciting conclusion... "]

1. The Wrap-Up: Rafael Martin took over for Gio Gonzalez with the bases loaded and no one out in the sixth and retired two batters without a run coming in... when Matt Williams went to the bullpen for lefty Matt Grace vs Cody Asche, there were actually some boos from the crowd with some apparently disagreeing with Willliams' move.

#toughcrowd.

Grace got a grounder back to the mound to keep it tied at 2-2 after five and a half.

Doug Fister took over on the mound in the seventh and gave up a one-out walk and a single on a liner back to the mound off Freddy Galvis bat, but a 1-4-6-3 DP in the next at bat got the right-hander through a scoreless, 14-pitch frame.

Jeanmar Gomez took over for the Phillies in the bottom of the seventh and gave up back-to-back singles by Ian Desmond and Matt den Dekker, who were 6 for 6 combined after the hits.

Jose Lobaton stepped in next and sent a double to left to drive in the go-ahead run, 3-2 Nationals. den Dekker came in on a sac fly RBI by Dan Uggla, 4-2.

Casey Janssen gave up a leadoff ground-rule double by Aaron Altherr in the first at bat of the eighth and a two-run home run by Jeff Francoeur two outs later. Cody Asche singled off new pitcher Felipe Rivero for the third hit of the inning. Williams went to the pen again for Jonathan Papelbon who got out no.3 to keep it tied.

Dalier Hinojosa threw a scoreless eighth against the Nationals, so Jonathan Papelbon, after getting into a brawl with Bryce Harper in the dugout, came back out for the ninth and gave up a walk and a two-run home run by Andres Blanco. 6-4 Phillies...

Eight runs total scored in the Phillies ninth, to make it 12-4. Matt den Dekker doubled, took third on an error on the hit and scored to make it 12-5 in the ninth. That's how it ended.

Nationals now 79-76