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Aníbal Sánchez out early in Nationals’ 6-5 loss to Phillies in Citizens Bank Park...

Aníbal Sánchez didn’t know what to think about his outing in Citizens Bank Park on Thursday...

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Three of the five runs Aníbal Sánchez gave up when he faced the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park last week came on a three-run home run in the first, but he settled in after that, and he gave up five runs total in a five-inning, 85-pitch outing which left him with a 6.90 ERA, 6.08 FIP, nine walks, 23 Ks, and a .326/.374/.620 line against in six starts and 30 IP this season.

“The first inning I thought the ball was up again. And then after that he started settling in,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters after what ended up a 5-3 loss to the Sox.

“We talk about that with him all the time. He’s got to establish the bottom part of the strike zone for him to be successful. He knows that. Once he started getting the ball down, then he can elevate when he wants to.

“He has to get the ball down. He knows that. He was frustrated when he came out of the game, because he knew he left some balls up that should have been down.”

Sánchez looked sharp early on Thursday in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, and he should have been through the first clean, on nine pitches, but a catchable Bryce Harper pop to center feel in between Trea Turner, Juan Soto, and Victor Robles for a two-out hit, and J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius followed with a double to right and two-run single to center, respectively, and it ended up being 2-0 Phillies at the end of a 25-pitch bottom of the first.

Davey Martinez on that play after the game:

“In that particular spot, I think I watched Robles, it looks like he broke back at first, and they were kind of looking at each other, I mean, Robles has got to come hard and catch it. That’s a tough play for an infielder.

“Trea thought he had no chance on it, so he was looking at Robles. As an outfielder, you got to come get the ball as hard as you can, and he did, once he started coming in he felt like he didn’t have a chance to catch it.”

Sánchez got a 4-3 DP after back-to-back singles in the second, and he came up for the third in a 2-2 game, but promptly surrendered a solo home run on a 1-1 cutter to Rhys Hoskins the Phillies’ first baseman hit out to left to put the home team back on top, 3-2, and 4-2 Philly on an RBI double by Gregorius later in the inning.

Two singles and a one-out walk in the fourth ended Sánchez’s outing after 74 pitches in 3 13 IP, and the Phillies went on to win it in extras, sweeping the four-game set with their NL East rivals.

Aníbal Sánchez’s Line: 3.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 74 P, 48 S, 7/2 GO/FO.

“I don’t know, man, I don’t really have a lot of words to explain what happened today,” the 36-year-old, 15-year veteran said after falling to (1-4) with a 6.48 ERA and 6.19 FIP in 33 13 innings this season.

“I feel really good. I feel really good all game. My command I think was there. It’s hard when everything is coming out good. I think every contact that they did today, they found a hole.”