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Washington Nationals rally late for 5-4 win over Philadelphia Phillies: Anthony Rendon home run in 9th sparks Nats...

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After struggling to get much of anything going against Aaron Nola through six, the Washington Nationals pushed two across in the seventh, and got a two-run home run by Anthony Rendon in the ninth (off Pat Neshek) in what ended up a 5-4 win in Philadelphia.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Trailing 3-2 in the ninth, the Washington Nationals got a leadoff walk from Bryce Harper with Tommy Hunter on the the mound for Philadelphia, and a two-run home run to left field off of Anthony Rendon’s bat on a hanging-a$$ 1-2 slider from Pat Neshek in what ended up a 5-4 Nationals’ win over the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park.

Scherzer vs the Phillies: Max Scherzer made one mistake last time out against the Phillies, well, two if you count the walk before he gave up a two-run home run for the only runs he allowed in seven innings on the mound in Nationals Park.

The free pass to Maikel Franco in the at bat before Odubel Herrera hit a home run was one of four walks he allowed, three of which came after he’d gotten ahead in the count.

“Just wasn’t able to quite put away some of the hitters after I got to a 1-2 count,” Scherzer said. “I think three of the walks were after a 1-2 count, so I’ve just got find the efficiency to be able to find an out pitch in that situation so that we’re getting the hitters out 1-2, 2-2 [instead] of letting the at bat drag on and eventually turn into a walk.”

The loss in that outing snapped an eight-start unbeaten streak for the Nationals’ ace, but he got another shot at Washington’s NL East rivals tonight in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.

Scherzer was up to 3 13 scoreless before Herrera got him again, taking a 95 mph 2-2 fastball inside out to right field for a solo shot that put the Phillies up 1-0. Herrera’s 21st of 2018.

Scott Kingery reached on a weak grounder in the first at bat of the Philly fifth, and the next pitch from Scherzer, a first-pitch slider to Jorge Alfaro, went out to center for a two-run HR, and a 3-0 Phillies’ lead.

Max Scherzer’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HRs, 99 P, 68 S, 3/5 GO/FO.

Nola vs the Nats: Aaron Nola tossed eight scoreless against the Nationals last week in the nation’s capital, outdueling Max Scherzer in the series finale of the Phillies’ three-game set in Washington, D.C. That outing extended an unbeaten streak for the 25-year-old, 2014 1st Round pick to six straight starts over which he’d gone (3-0) with a 1.58 ERA, 10 walks, 38 Ks, and a .194/.255/.292 line against in 40 IP.

Taking on the Nationals for the second time in a week, tonight in Citizens Bank Park, Nola got off to a good start with two scoreless and hitless on 34 pitches (which left him at 15 23 scoreless against the Nats going back over three starts to the second inning of his 6/28/18 outing vs WAS in CBP).

Nola tossed four scoreless on 62 pitches, and took the mound in the fifth with a 1-0 lead after Odubel Herrera took Max Scherzer deep again to give his starter a run to work with.

Ryan Zimmerman doubled to start the top of the fifth, but he was thrown out making an ill-advised attempt to reach third base on a Matt Wieters’ grounder to short, and Wilmer Difo started an inning-ending 5-4-3 in the next AB.

It was 3-0 Phillies when Nola took the mound in the sixth and worked around a one-out walk for another scoreless frame.

Anthony Rendon singled and Ryan Zimmerman doubled in the top of the seventh, however, putting runners on the corners with one out, and both of them scored when Carlos Santana sailed his throw to the plate after getting an out at first on a Matt Wieters’ grounder, 3-2.

Aaron Nola’s Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks, 106 P, 72 S, 8/3 GO/FO.

Scherzer vs Nola - Round 2: As the Phillies mentioned in their pregame notes for tonight’s matchup, last week’s head-to-head battle between Aaron Nola and Max Scherzer, “marked the first time in over 30 years that two starting pitchers took the mound against one another with at least 150.0 innings under their belt and [sub-2.25 ERAs],” with the last battle between pitchers who met those criteria between the St. Louis Cardinals’ John Tuder and the New York Mets’ Dwight Gooden back on September 11, 1985*.

[ed. note - * = It actually says “9/11/15” in their game notes, but that’s clearly a typo. Quick someone write to them and point it out for your ⭐️ for the day.”]

Gooden, then 20 years old, had a 1.74 ERA in 30 starts and 232 23 IP to that point, while Tudor, 31, started that game with a 1.95 ERA in 30 starts and 226 IP, lowering it to 1.87 in what ended up being a 10-inning effort in which he held the Mets off the board, earning what was his 18th win of the season on the way to 21 total wins that year.

So, the Phillies continued, after waiting, “30 years between occasions,” a rare matchup like this, “... has now happened twice in a five-day span.” Consider yourself lucky to have been able to watch it.

Neither starter figured in the decision, however...

BULLPEN ACTION: Matt Grace came on for the Nationals in the sixth, and worked around a single in a 13P frame. Grace got two outs in the Phillies’ seventh before handing the ball to Jimmy Cordero, who struck Jose Bautista out to end the frame, and keep it a 3-2 game.

Mark Reynolds got himself tossed arguing balls and strikes after he K’d looking at an 0-2 two-seamer from Tommy Hunter in a pinch hit appearances in the top of the eighth, and Reynolds tossed his batting gloves (feebly) at the home plate ump after the ejection.

Koda Glover took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the eighth and worked around a two-out walk for a scoreless frame.

Tommy Hunter came back out in the top of the ninth and fell behind 3-1 on Bryce Harper, who fouled one off, 3-2, and took ball four outside for a leadoff walk.

Philly skipper Gabe Kapler went with Pat Neshek against Anthony Rendon in the next at bat, and Neshek hung a 1-2 slider up for the Nationals’ third baseman, who hit a go-ahead two-run HR out to left field to make it a 4-3 game in Washington’s favor. Ryan Zimmerman hit a one-out double off Neshek, who was lifted in favor of Hector Neris, and then stole third and scored on a throwing error on the play, 5-3.

Justin Miller got the ball for the Nationals in the ninth for a second straight night, and gave up a one-out double to left by Nick Williams before Wilson Ramos drove him in with an RBI double to right, 5-4.

Davey Martinez went to the pen again for Greg Holland vs Jorge Alfaro...

Alfaro popped out to center, and pinch runner Vince Velasquez was called out for having left second too early. That’s horrible.

Ballgame.

Final Score: 5-4 Nationals

Nationals now 67-66