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Jeremy Hellickson lifted early in Nationals’ 4-3 loss to D-backs in D.C.

Jeremy Hellickson gave up two runs on home runs in 5 1⁄3 innings of work on the mound in what ended up a 4-3 loss to the D-backs in Nationals Park.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

“He really was hitting his spots in the game against the Dodgers and pitched a whale of a game for us,” Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN’s The Sports Junkies in an interview earlier this week when he was asked about right-hander Jeremy Hellickson’s last start against Los Angeles in Chavez Ravine.

“We feel confident that he’s going to help this team.”

Hellickson threw 93 pitches total in a 5 13-inning outing against the Dodgers in LA, in his second outing for Washington since joining the Nationals’ rotation back on April 16th.

In that start, the 31-year-old, nine-year veteran surrendered a total of three hits, two walks, and three earned runs, with five Ks and eight groundouts from the 21 batters he faced.

In need of a win in the second of three games with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday, Hellickson’s turn in Washington’s rotation was up again.

“He’s been really good,” Martinez said before the second of three with the D-backs in D.C.

“He’s a professional. He knows how to get outs. That’s Helly. He changes speeds, he keeps you in the ballgame, and he gives us a chance to win, so I love when he’s out there.

Arizona Diamondbacks  v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

“Hopefully today he goes out there and does what he does best and gets outs.”

Hellickson retired five of the first six batters he faced, working around a leadoff single in the second, and completed three scoreless on just 24 pitches, but he left a knuckle curve up in the zone for David Peralta, who hit a leadoff homer in the fourth that cut into the Nationals’ lead a half-inning after they’d jumped out to a 2-0 advantage.

Peralta got him again in the sixth, hitting a 2-1 slider to right and into the second deck for a game-tying solo shot that made it 2-2. Hellickson was done for the day one out later, with a total of just 57 pitches in 5 13 IP.

Jeremy Hellickson’s Line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 HRs, 57 P, 43 S, 7/5 GO/FO.

Howie Kendrick homered off D-backs’ lefty Patrick Corbin in the sixth to put the Nationals back on top, but Arizona tied it up in the eighth, and won it in the tenth to take the series.

Hellickson was asked after the game if he was surprised by the early hook.

“I mean a little surprised, you know,” he told reporters.

“I would have liked to get those last two that inning, but I’m not the one to question Davey’s decision. He knows what he’s doing.”

“It was a hard decision,” Martinez acknowledged. “He had 56 pitches, but come that sixth inning for some reason things often happen, so I thought it was a good time to get him out, but he pitched well, he gave us a chance to win.”

“I felt good,” Hellickson said of his stuff overall against the D-backs. “I got some early quick outs, just getting ahead and let my defense play.”

Both of the runs he allowed came on home runs by Peralta. He talked about the mistakes.

“First one was just — I mean, it was a little hanger, just not terrible, but he’s probably one of the most underrated players in this league,” Hellickson said.“I played with him for a year, and he’s good, so you can’t that mistake. Same with the second one, just tried to keep it on him and not let him go that way again, and just got too much plate with the cutter.”