Bryce is just right for Nats in ninth

NA­TION­ALS 6, PHILLIES 4 Harper gets new deal, then blasts win­ning HR

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY JORGE CASTILLO

Fa­tigue was not an is­sue for the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als as they be­gan their fourth se­ries in five weeks against the Philadel­phia Phillies on Satur­day night at Na­tion­als Park. Their games the pre­vi­ous two days, in­clud­ing Fri­day’s sched­uled se­ries opener, were rained out, af­ford­ing them an un­usual two-day stretch. Man­ager Dusty Baker likened the in­ter­val to a mini all-star break, but he won­dered whether the dis­rup­tion would have ill ef­fects.

“Ev­ery­body’s rested, but it’s not a day off,” Baker said. “It’s not a men­tal rest.”

Bryce Harper man­aged to stay sharp through the down­time, and he con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate the Phillies in the Na­tion­als’ 6-4 win. On the day he agreed to a one-year, $21.625 mil­lion deal for

2018 sea­son, Harper crushed his se­cond walk-off home run of the sea­son against the Phillies, a two-run shot to straight­away cen­ter field off right-han­der Edubray Ramos. It was Harper’s 11th home run of the sea­son and 19th of his ca­reer against the Phillies, and it came af­ter the Na­tion­als’ bullpen — bol­stered by the re­turns of Koda Glover and Shawn Kel­ley — tossed 41/3 score­less in­nings.

Nei­ther Glover nor Kel­ley al­lowed a hit, with Kel­ley (3-0) col­lect­ing the win as the Na­tion­als im­proved to 23-12.

The start­ing pitch­ers were per­haps the most im­pacted by the del­uge. Wash­ing­ton’s Tan­ner Roark and Philadel­phia’s Nick Pivetta were sched­uled to start Fri­day and pushed back to Satur­day. Pivetta, a 24-year-old for­mer Na­tion­als farm­hand sent to Philadel­phia two sum­mers ago for Jonathan Papel­bon, was mak­ing just his third ma­jor league start. Roark, mean­while, had grown ac­cus­tomed to hav­ing his starts im­pacted by weather and pitched early on as if the in­ter­rup­tion was im­ma­te­rial.

Don­ning a bold com­bi­na­tion of light pink socks and white cleats as part of base­ball’s Mother’s Day weekend cel­e­bra­tion, Roark faced the min­i­mum through three in­nings thanks to a cou­ple dou­ble plays. But the Phillies (13-20) worked him, and he en­tered the fourth with 46 pitches. It was rem­i­nis­cent of last Sun­day in Philadel­phia, when Roark al­lowed two un­earned over six in­nings but needed 100 pitches.

The toil caught up with him in the fourth in­ning. Ce­sar Her­nan­dez, who has emerged as one of base­ball’s best hit­ters through six weeks, led off with a walk. He then stole se­cond as Roark recorded two outs and threat­ened to strand him. But Roark then walked Tommy Joseph on four pitches be­fore sur­ren­der­ing a two-out RBI sin­gle to Michael Saun­ders. Maikel Franco fol­lowed with another sin­gle to load the bases for Cameron Rupp, who cap­i­tal­ized with a two-run sin­gle to cen­ter field.

Roark had thrown 86 pitches for 12 outs by the in­ning’s con­clu­sion. He needed another 24 pitches to se­cure two more be­fore Baker pulled him with run­ners on first and se­cond in the fifth. Baker went to Joe Blan­ton, who im­me­di­ately sur­ren­dered an RBI dou­ble to Joseph. The four runs — all with two outs — nearly matched the five earned runs Roark had al­lowed across 47 in­nings in seven starts against the Phillies since the be­gin­ning of 2016.

Pivetta breezed through four in­nings on 60 pitches, but he didn’t last any longer than his coun­ter­part be­cause the Na­tion­als’ bats woke from their slum­ber with their own two-out surge in fifth. Two bat­ters af­ter Michael A. Tay­lor dou­bled, Trea Turner launched a line drive over the wall in right-cen­ter field for a two-out, two-run home run. Pivetta then is­sued con­sec­u­tive walks to Jayson Werth and Harper be­fore Ryan Zim­mer­man de­liv­ered a two-run dou­ble to right­cen­ter field.

The dou­ble hiked Zim­merthe man’s bat­ting av­er­age back over the .400 mark and his RBI to­tal to 36. It also con­cluded Pivetta’s out­ing at 42/3 in­nings.

A bat­tle be­tween two of base­ball’s worst bullpens en­sued. Both sides went back and forth keep­ing the other side off the board un­til the ninth. The Phillies used four re­liev­ers for their 31/3 score­less in­nings. Wash­ingthe ton also needed four. One of them was Glover, who en­tered the game with two outs and a run­ner on se­cond in the sev­enth in­ning. Glover tripped de­liv­er­ing his first pitch and is­sued a walk to the first bat­ter he faced since April 25. But he re­cov­ered to se­cure the in­ning’s third out and re­tired the side in the eighth.

Kel­ley was given the ninth. He granted two walks but es­caped the jam by strik­ing out Odubel Her­rera and get­ting Aaron Altherr to ground out to the short­stop.

Harper made cer­tain the Phillies were un­able to sur­vive another in­ning, beat­ing Ramos to cap a big day for both his wal­let and his ball­club.


Bryce Harper, who agreed to a one-year deal for the 2018 sea­son ear­lier in the day, hit a walk-off homer with two outs in the ninth.


Na­tion­als right-han­der Tan­ner Roark threw 110 pitches and couldn’t make it out of the fifth, but Bryce Harper even­tu­ally saved the day.

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