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Another blown save costs Nationals first game of double-header against Phillies

Another blown save costs Nationals first game of double-header against Phillies

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After the Nationals' latest blown save, Washington manager Dusty Baker said he's open to a move to bolster his faltering bullpen.

He also knows he might have to wait a while.

Shawn Kelley struggled Sunday before Koda Glover allowed Ty Kelly's tiebreaking RBI single in Philadelphia's three-run ninth inning, sending the Nationals to a 4-3 loss to the Phillies in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.

"You're always pushing for a trade, but there ain't nobody trading right now," Baker said after his team suffered a third blown save in six games. "Sometimes you have no choice but to have patience. Nobody's going to drop you down a knockdown closer out of the sky until there's some teams out of it."

Aaron Altherr opened the ninth with his eighth homer. Maikel Franco and Cameron Rupp hit consecutive doubles off Kelley, and Freddy Galvis walked before Kelly's clutch swing lifted Philadelphia to its third win in 14 games.

"We've been in a hole, trying to climb out," Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said.

The Phillies also came back from three runs down to win in the teams' series finale last weekend in Philadelphia.

"That's how it's been against these guys all year," Altherr said of the Nationals relievers, who entered Sunday with a combined NL-worst 5.18 ERA. "We know their bullpen has been struggling a little bit. Never give up, never quit, keep fighting."

Kelley (3-1) blew his second save in five opportunities. The right-hander was activated from the disabled list Friday after being sidelined with a back strain and got the win with a scoreless inning in Saturday's 6-4 victory.

"I wasn't 100 percent," Kelley said of the quick turnaround. "But we don't always pitch 100 percent every time out. The bottom line is, in that situation, I want the ball there. And I've got to do my job, and I didn't."

Joaquin Benoit (1-2) pitched a scoreless eighth for Philadelphia, and Hector Neris finished for his fourth save.

Bryce Harper hit his 12th homer for NL East-leading Washington, and Trea Turner added a two-run shot.

Gio Gonzalez allowed one run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings, but saw a late lead disappear with the bullpen for the second time this season.

"This is just, `Turn the page, hey it happens, it's part of baseball,'" Gonzalez said of Kelley. "I know for a fact that he put his heart out there and he tried his best, you know."

Tommy Joseph hit an opposite-field homer off Gonzalez in the seventh, setting up Philadelphia's late rally.

TRAINERS ROOM

Phillies: INF Howie Kendrick (abdominal strain) is about to begin swinging the bat and will have at least one rehab game before returning, Mackanin said.

Nationals: LF Jayson Werth was out of the lineup for both games after leaving Saturday night's game because of groin tightness.

HOMER HAPPY

Harper has homered five times in eight games against the Phillies, even after missing an entire series with a groin injury.

SO IT'S BEEN A WHILE

Hellickson's fourth start against Washington in the season's 34th game is the earliest a Phillies starter has seen a team that many times since Jumbo Elliott faced the Brooklyn Dodgers for a fourth time in the 32nd game of the 1931 season.

UP NEXT

Phillies: Game 2 right-handed starter Vince Velazquez has a 6.88 ERA in six career starts vs. Washington, including an 8.18 ERA in two starts this season.

Nationals: Righty ace Max Scherzer aims for his 53rd career double-digit strikeout game -- and third straight -- to pass the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw for the most among active players.

MORE NATIONALS: Bryce Harper said he wants to be like John Wall

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Nationals win 6-2 after Stephen Strasburg leaves in second inning

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USA TODAY Sports

Nationals win 6-2 after Stephen Strasburg leaves in second inning

PHOENIX -- Stephen Strasburg left after struggling with his control in the second inning, and the Washington Nationals wrapped up a successful nine-game trip with a 6-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.

There was no word from the Nationals during the game explaining the standout right-hander's departure.

Strasburg, 10-3 with a 3.31 ERA entering the game, uncharacteristically walked the No. 8 and No. 9 batters in the second inning before departing with a 5-0 lead. He threw 51 pitches, 29 strikes.

Brian Goodwin's leadoff homer ignited a four-run first inning off Robbie Ray (9-5), who lasted five innings, allowing five runs.

Bryce Harper singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to 16 games.

Wilmer Difo hit his second home run of the season off reliever T.J. McFarland in the seventh.

Joe Blanton (1-2) got two outs and earned the win.

The NL East-leading Nationals took two of three in Arizona to go 7-2 on the trip.

Nine players batted for Washington in the opening inning. Goodwin started it with a booming shot high above the home run line across the batter's eye in straightaway center.

Difo and Harper singled and Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly made it 2-0. Daniel Murphy walked and Anthony Rendon singled in a run. Jose Lobaton capped the scoring with a two-out RBI single before Strasburg bounced into a fielder's choice to end Ray's 39-pitch inning.

Arizona broke through with two runs in the fifth.

Chris Iannetta had a pinch-hit single with one out and David Descalso walked before Ketel Marte and David Peralta each singled in a run. With runners at first and third and one out, Blanton came on to strike out Paul Goldschmidt and got Chris Owings to ground into a fielder's choice.

The Diamondbacks had runners at second and third with one out in the sixth but Enny Romero struck out A.J. Pollock and Descalso bounced out to second. Romero left the game in the seventh with an apparent injury.

Arizona, 3-6 since the All-Star break, stranded 11 runners.

Washington's Andrew Stevenson, called up from Triple-A Syracuse, was 0 for 2 in his major league debut.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: Washington placed OF Chris Heisey on the 10-day DL. Heisey strained his left groin in Saturday night's 4-3 victory. Additionally, OF Ryan Raburn was placed on the bereavement list.

Diamondbacks: J.D. Martinez appeared in his first game in Arizona as a Diamondback after missing three games with a bruised wrist, the result of being hit by a pitch in his Diamondbacks debut. He walked as a pinch hitter in the seventh.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Washington has Monday off and hosts Milwaukee on Tuesday. RH Edwin Jackson makes his second start for the Nationals.

Diamondbacks: Arizona begins a three-game home series against Atlanta on Monday night. Zack Greinke (11-4, 2.93 ERA), 9-0 with a 2.41 ERA in 11 home starts, goes for the Diamondbacks. R.A. Dickey (6-6, 4.14) counters for the Braves.

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Bryce Harper powers Nationals past Diamondbacks

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Bryce Harper powers Nationals past Diamondbacks

PHOENIX -- The newest additions to the Washington bullpen came through when called upon to help deliver a victory to their new team.

Sean Doolittle stranded the potential tying run by escaping a jam for his second save for Washington, and Ryan Madson tossed a scoreless eighth inning as the Nationals held off the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 on Saturday night.

"The game can really speed up on you once you start getting guys on base," said Doolittle, who with Madson arrived in a trade with Oakland earlier in the week. "The crowd and the energy of the stadium can kind of take over and ... you have to be mindful enough to step off the mound, slow the game down a bit, kind of press reset."

Bryce Harper homered and drove in two runs, and starting pitcher Tanner Roark struck out a season-high 11. Roark (8-6) gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings for the NL East-leading Nationals.

"Curveball felt good. Just keep the hitter guessing," Roark said.

Harper hit his 25th home run on a full-count offspeed pitch from Anthony Banda (0-1), who lost in his major league debut.

Chris Iannetta hit a two-out RBI double in the bottom half, but the Nationals opened a 4-1 lead with a three-run sixth.

Harper hit a run-scoring double and scored on Ryan Zimmerman's double, and Anthony Rendon beat out an RBI single that sent Zimmerman home.

"They had a young guy out there that throws the ball really hard, has good command. He's going to be really good in the next couple of years for sure," Harper said of Banda. "Just got him this time and got a few runs up there."

A.J. Pollock tripled in the bottom half and scored on Jake Lamb's groundout, and Arizona reliever Jorge De La Rosa got out of bases-loaded trouble in the seventh when he struck out Harper and Zimmerman.

Doolittle, acquired from Oakland last weekend, walked Lamb leading off the ninth. Iannetta hit a broken-bat grounder to third, and Rendon's throw to second went into right field for an error that put runners on the corners.

Paul Goldschmidt hit a sacrifice fly, Chris Owings flied out and Doolittle struck out Ketel Marte for his second save with the Nationals.

"Madson's been great for us. Doolittle ... he never panics. It was great to see. It's a lot of fun to have a back end like that," Harper said.

Banda allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, struck out five and walked none. He was optioned back to Triple-A Reno after the game.

"I felt confident. I threw the ball in the zone and kept attacking hitters," Banda said. "I made a couple of mistakes, Harper and the middle of the lineup."