With five-straight two-out hits in the fourth, the Washington Nationals put four runs on the board, taking a 4-0 lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in Citizens Bank Park, but after right-handed starter Joe Ross tossed five scoreless innings, Austin Voth struggled again and he gave up three straight hits to the first three batters he faced, the third, a three-run shot by Rhys Hoskins that made it a one-run game after six, 4-3.
After the Nationals added an insurance run in the top of the ninth, the Phillies walked off on a 3-run home run by Andrew McCutchen off Brad Hand, 6-5 final.
Ross vs the Phillies: Before he landed on the IL with inflammation in his right elbow, Joe Ross struck out a season-high 11 batters in 6 2⁄3 innings pitched against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 4th, taking the loss in a 5-1 game in Nationals Park.
In spite of the fact that he missed three weeks, the Nationals decided against sending the right-hander out on a rehab assignment before putting him back in the rotation.
“We often talk about Joe,” Davey Martinez explained, “because he missed all of last year, and about how much we can get out of him this year. I talked to [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey, I talked to him, about just if he went down on a rehab assignment, we’re kind of just wasting bullets, there’s only so many innings and we got to be careful about how many innings he does pitch.”
So the righty returned right to the rotation tonight.
Ross, 28, worked his way out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first, with a 9-2 DP on a fly to short right by Rhys Hoskins, getting him out of an 18-pitch bottom of the inning, and he retired the side in order in the Phillies’ second, then stranded two runners in a 16-pitch bottom of the third which left him at 46 pitches total after 3.0 scoreless.
Given a four-run lead to work with after 3 1/2, Ross returned to the mound in the fourth and set the side down in order in a nine-pitch frame, and he worked around a two-out HBP in an otherwise clean, 17-pitch bottom of the fifth to complete five scoreless on 72 pitches.
Joe Ross’s Line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 72 P, 44 S, 5/3 GO/FO.
Howard vs the Nationals: Having managed Spencer Howard’s innings in his second season in the majors, The Athletic’s Matt Gelb wrote last week that the 24-year-old right-hander, “... could pitch every fifth day and not reach his innings cap before the end of the season,” at this point.
The 2017 2nd Round pick took the mound tonight (0-2) in 10 games, and six starts, this year, over which he had a 5.11 ERA, a 4.30 FIP, 17 walks, 29 Ks, and a .209/.348/.352 line against in 24 2⁄3 IP.
Howard retired the first six Nationals’ batters tonight, before giving up a leadoff single by Tres Barrera in the third, but he erased the first runner to reach base on a 6-4-3 DP in the next AB, and retired the opposing pitcher after that, to get through three on 35 pitches, having faced the minimum the first time through the order.
Alcides Escobar and Trea Turner hit back-to-back soft singles to start the top of the fourth, but Juan Soto sent a grounder to second to start a 4-6-3 DP. Josh Bell tripled off the top of the wall in right field in the next at bat, however, driving in Escobar, 1-0, and Bell then scored on a second straight triple, with Josh Harrison sending one by third base and into the corner for a 2-0 lead, and it was 3-0 after an RBI single by Gerardo Parra which ended Howard’s night (though he did apparently also have a blister on his fingers, Ringo-style, that precipitated his exit)...
*turns ballcap inside out*— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 27, 2021
Alcides Escobar 1B
Trea Turner 1B
Josh Bell RBI 3B
Josh Harrison RBI 3B
Gerardo Parra RBI 1B
Tres Barrera 1B
Victor Robles RBI 1B@KPMidAtlantic // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/fjzeUGBaAl
Spencer Howard’s Line: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 45 P, 31 S, 4/1 GO/FO.
Spencer Howard left the game with an issue with his right middle finger.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) July 27, 2021
Back-to-Back Triples: Andrew McCutchen stumbled in left on Josh Harrison’s ground ball down the line in the top of the fourth, turning a sure-thing double into a triple for J-Hay, an at bat after Josh Bell drove in a run with his first three-base hit of the season (and first triple since 2019).
According to @NationalsPR on Twitter, the back-to-back triples by Bell and Harrison were just the second back-to-back triples in the same inning in franchise history, since all the way back in 2005, the inaugural season for the Nationals, when Jamey Carrol and Jose Vidro tripled in back-to-back at bats on April 13, 2005 in Atlanta.
Bullpen Action: With Brandon Kintzler on in relief, Tres Barrera singled after Parra’s hit in the top of the fourth, and Victor Robles connected for the fifth straight two-out hit and a 4-0 lead.
Connor Brogdon took over for the Phillies in the top of the fifth, and retired the Nationals in order in a 14-pitch frame.
Philly righty José Alvarado walked Josh Harrison with one out in the top of the sixth, and put Tres Barrera on as well with a two-out free pass, then walked Victor Robles to load them up, but Ryan Zimmerman lined out to center to end the threat. Still 4-0 Nationals.
Austin Voth gave up a single by Bryce Harper and a double by Andrew McCutchen in the first two at bats of the Phillies’ sixth, and Rhys Hoskins followed with a 3-run home run to left field that made it a one-run game, 4-3 Nationals. Hoskins’ 22nd of 2021.
Voth got two outs, and after the Phillies announced pinch hitter Brad Miller, Davey Martinez went to the pen again for lefty Sam Clay with a runner on third base in a one-run game, and Clay struck Miller out to strand the potential tying run at third.
Héctor Neris worked around a two-out walk to Juan Soto to keep it a one-run game after six and a half in Citizens Bank.
Kyle Finnegan struck out two and worked around a two-out walk to Bryce Harper in a 16-pitch bottom of the seventh.
Neris returned to the mound in the eighth and struck out two in a 1-2-3 frame.
Daniel Hudson gave up one- and two-out singles in the home-half of the eighth inning, with Didi Gregorius and Odubel Herrera both reaching base, but he caught Alec Bohm looking with a 99 MPH 2-2 fastball (that looked ball-ish) for out No. 3.
Alcides Escobar and Trea Turner hit back-to-back, one-out singles in the top of the ninth, and Juan Soto walked to load the bases in front of Josh Bell, who hit a high-one-hopper to short for an RBI infield single, 5-3 Nationals after eight and a half.
Brad Hand came on for the save opportunity in the Phillies’ half of the ninth, and gave up a leadoff double to right by Jean Segura, and a wild pitch allowed Segura to move up a base, but J.T. Realmuto K’d swinging for out No. 1.
Bryce Harper walked to put two on with one out, and Andrew McCutchen hit a walk-off blast to right field to win it. Ballgame.
Final Score: 6-5 Phillies
Nationals now 45-54