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Washington Nationals blow lead in 9th, lose to Philadelphia Phillies, 7-5 in D.C.

It was all going along swimmingly, with a strong outing from the new starter, and a big hit from the old man, but then the wheels came off in the ninth...

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MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

In his debut for the Washington Nationals, following last Friday’s trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Josiah Gray, one of four players who came to D.C. in return for both Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, tossed five strong on 71 pitches, giving up just one run on a solo home run, and the Nats rallied to tie things up with a run in the sixth. Then, after Philadelphia’s Phillies put one up in the top of the seventh, the Nationals responded, with Ryan Zimmerman’s two-run single off Archie Bradley putting the home team on top, 3-2.

That lead didn’t last long, with the Phillies rallying to tie it in the ninth on an RBI double by Jean Segura, and taking the lead on a bases-loaded, two-run single by J.T Realmuto, 5-3... and 7-5 final.

Gray vs the Phillies: Acquired by the Nationals in the deal that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers, Josiah Gray was immediately installed as the Nats’ No. 2 prospect.

Mike Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office didn’t waste any time bringing the righty up to the majors, with the club announcing yesterday that Gray would join the rotation and go against the Phillies in his second career start and third major league appearance, after Gray debuted with LA earlier this season.

“Jo-Jo Gray is a terrific young prospect, he’s got great stuff, and a terrific pitcher and he’s a guy that we should see very soon if not right away in the big leagues,” Rizzo said on Friday, once the deadline passed.

“He’s big league ready, he was a starting pitcher on a championship-caliber club with the Dodgers, and I think he’ll come over here and just continue to improve and make himself into one of the elite starting pitchers in the game.”

Gray retired the first seven Phillies’ batters he faced before Odubel Herrera went down for a 1-2 curve and lined it to right for the first hit of the game by the visiting team. Ranger Suárez bunted Herrera over/gave up an out, and Travis Jankowski reached on an infield single, on a grounder to short, putting two on with two out in front of Jean Segura, who sent a fly ball to center to end a 16-pitch frame, which left Gray at 40 total after 3.0 scoreless.

Herrera, who connected for the first hit off Gray in a Nationals uniform, got him again in the top of the fifth, hitting a 94 MPH full-count fastball out to center for a solo home run to lead off the inning, 1-0 Phillies. Herrera’s 7th. Hip-high, inside, to the left-handed hitting Phillies’ center fielder. Gray will probably want that one back...

Josiah Gray’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 71 P, 47 S, 4/6 GO/FO.

Suárez vs the Nationals: In 27 appearances out of the bullpen this season, Phillies’ lefty Ranger Suárez had put up a 1.12 ERA, 14 walks, 42 Ks, and a .152/.244/.239 line against in 40 23 IP, but the club decided recently to transition the southpaw into their rotation.

“They presented the idea to me,” Suárez said, as quoted by The Athletic’s Matt Gelb last week.

“I am ready for whatever role they need me for. So this is what I need to do now for the team. And I think I’m ready to do it.”

Suárez started three games in his rookie campaign with the Phillies in 2018, but he had been working exclusively out of the bullpen since.

He tossed 3.0 scoreless and hitless on 33 pitches tonight, working around a walk to keep the home team off the board, but that was all Philly skipper Joe Girardi asked of the lefty.

Ranger Suárez’s Line: 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 33 P, 18 S, 5/1 GO/FO.

Yadi Dadi: As the Nationals mentioned in their pregame notes tonight, “According to ESPN Stats & Info, [Yadiel] Hernández became the first player in MLB this season with four hits and a walk-off home run,” in one game, “and became the first Nationals player with four hits and a walk-off homer since Elijah Dukes, June 5, 2008 vs. St. Louis.” It’s been a while since Dukes’ name came up around here.

As for Hernández, his four hit, two-homer game on Sunday left him 11 for 18 (.611) with three doubles, two home runs, nine RBIs, one walk, and five runs scored in his last 10 games, and over the previous four, he was 8 for 12 (.667 AVG) with all three of the doubles, and the two home runs in that stretch.

Bullpen Action: Héctor Neris gave up a two-out single by Juan Soto in the bottom of the fourth, but the Nationals’ first runner to reach base was stranded one batter later.

Neris came back for the fifth with a 1-0 lead, and retired the Nationals in order in a quick, shutdown inning.

Mason Thompson, acquired from San Diego in the deal that sent Daniel Hudson to the Padres, came on in the top of the sixth in his debut for the Nationals, and gave up two singles with two out, and a walk that loaded the bases, before he struck Rhys Hoskins out, ending a 20-pitch frame.

Enyel De Los Santos came on for the Phils in the bottom of the sixth, and gave up a game-tying, one-out home run to right on a 93 MPH 1-0 fastball to Andrew Stevenson that ended up in the right field bullpen. Stevenson’s 3rd. 1-1 game. De Los Santos hit Victor Robles in the next at bat, and Adrián Sanchez bunted the potential tying run over/gave up an out, so the Phillies went to the pen again for José Alvarado vs Juan Soto. Soto got the intentionals, bringing Josh Bell up with two on and two out, but Bell K’d looking for out No. 3.

Sam Clay walked Jean Segura with one out in the top of the seventh, and Bryce Harper hit an opposite field double to left in the next at bat, sending Segura around to third. Clay did not stay in after that. Andres Machado came on with runners on second and third and one out, and uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Segura to score from third, 2-1, but Harper got thrown out at home by Yadiel Hernández on a fly to left in the next at bat, for a 7-2 DP that ended the inning.

Alvarado returned to the mound in the bottom of the seventh, and gave up back-to-back hits, by Yadiel Hernández and Carter Kieboom, and a one-out walk to Tres Barrera which loaded the bases in front of pinch hitter Ryan Zimmerman...

Archie Bradley took over for the Phillies against Zimmerman, and the Nationals’ stud off the bench hit a 2-1 curve through the left side for a two-run, go-ahead hit, 3-2 Nationals.

Gabe Klobosits retired the Phillies in order in a four-pitch frame in the top of the eighth, after Zimmerman put them ahead.

Klobosits came back for more in the top of the ninth and gave up back-to-back singles by Ronald Torreyes and Travis Jankowski before Davey Martinez went to the pen for Wander Suero, who gave up an RBI double to center by Jean Segura, 3-3, and second and third with no outs. An intentional walk to Bryce Harper loaded the bases, and J.T. Realmuto drove in two runs with a single to left, 5-3 Phillies.

Alec Bohm added to the lead with another RBI single, 6-3, and another run scored before the Nationals could finish off an inning-ending DP, 7-3.

Ian Kennedy came on to end it in the bottom of the ninth, and walked Yadiel Hernández to start the inning, then gave up a two-run home run to left by Carter Kieboom, 7-5. That’s as close they got, however...

Final Score: 7-5 Phillies

Nationals now 49-57