Instant Replay: Nationals 5, Phillies 2

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Instant Replay: Nationals 5, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON -- The Phillies’ quest to reach the .500 mark lives on after a 5-2 loss to the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

Kyle Kendrick was not sharp and neither was the defense when the Nats rallied for four runs in the decisive fifth inning.

The Phils have been held to two or fewer runs in 19 of 48 games. They are 23-25. Washington is 25-23.

This was the first of 19 meetings between the two clubs.

Starting pitching report
Kendrick suffered his second straight loss to fall to 4-3 on the season. His command was not good; he needed 107 pitches to get through five innings. He threw just 62 strikes. The right-hander allowed 12 base runners on eight hits and four walks. Kendrick walked just two batters in his first three starts this month. He has walked eight in his last two. He has given up nine runs in his last two starts after giving up just eight in his previous six.

Jordan Zimmermann stayed on course for the All-Star Game. He held the Phils to two runs over seven innings and did not walk a batter. Zimmermann has allowed two or fewer runs in nine of 10 starts. He is 8-2 with a 1.71 ERA.

Bullpen report
The Phillies, looking for middle relief help, had to be encouraged by Mike Stutes coming up from Triple A and throwing two shutout innings.

Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano closed it out for Washington.

At the plate
The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Ryan Howard had a leadoff double and scored on a one-out single by Domonic Brown, whose 25 RBIs are tied with Howard and Chase Utley for the team lead.

The Phillies got four singles in the fifth inning but scored just one run -- on a sacrifice fly by Erik Kratz. Ben Revere had a chance to do some one-out damage but grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to end the frame.

The Nats scored four times off Kendrick in the bottom of the fifth inning. Adam LaRoche had an RBI triple off the center-field wall with one out to tie the game. It came on a 3-0 pitch. Revere got to the wall but appeared to overrun the ball and couldn’t make the catch. The Nats ended up scoring three runs with two outs on a single by Kurt Suzuki and a double by No. 8 hitter Steve Lombardozzi on a 2-0 pitch. Tyler Moore preceded Lombardozzi’s two-run double with an infield hit. Phils third baseman Michael Young could have gotten the third out on the slow roller, but had trouble getting the ball out of his glove.

In the field
Revere and Young had a chance to make plays that would have limited the damage in the fifth inning, but neither did.

Revere threw out Moore at the plate in the fourth. Kratz hung on to the ball as Moore crashed into him.

Transactions
Michael Martinez was added to take Utley’s roster spot. More on the Phils’ decision to bring up Martinez and not Darin Ruf here: (see story). The team says Mike Adams will come off the DL on Sunday (see story).

Up next
Jonathan Pettibone (3-0, 3.00) opposes Dan Haren (4-5, 5.54) on Saturday night.

Phillies' Darin Ruf could be facing quiet goodbye

Phillies' Darin Ruf could be facing quiet goodbye

NEW YORK — The final eight games remaining on the Phillies’ 2016 schedule will undoubtedly serve as a farewell to Ryan Howard.

Lost in the background may be the fact this week could quite possibly be the end for the man who was supposed to platoon alongside him this year, as well: Darin Ruf.

Both men have been supplanted by Tommy Joseph, who's hit 21 home runs in just 100 games this year while positioning himself as the Phillies first baseman of the near future.

Ruf will start Saturday night against Mets’ lefthander Sean Gilmartin. The Phillies are not scheduled to face a lefty starter for the rest of the season, so Saturday could be one of the final chances to see Ruf in a Phillies uniform, especially considering manager Pete Mackanin’s stated intent to give Howard more playing time down the stretch.

“It seemed like we never faced a lefty for the first month of the season. So that didn’t help Ruf at the time,” Mackanin said.  “Joseph entered the picture and made an immediate impression.”

Ruf’s departure from the majors set the stage for Joseph’s immediate emergence. At the time of his May 13 demotion to AAA Lehigh Valley – and Joseph’s promotion -- Ruf was had a .158/.206/.193 slash line.
  
Since his Sept. 1 return to the majors after rosters expanded, Ruf has done what he can to make sure his possible final season in a Phillies uniform ends on a high note. On Friday night, he drilled a home run to left center off Mets reliever Josh Smoker in pinch-hit duty, the first time Ruf had gone yard since Oct. 1, 2015.

“It felt good,” Ruf said about ending his home run drought. “You just try to simply things and last night it worked out for me.”

Where Ruf will be next year is a more complicated matter, as the 30-year-old is out of minor league options. Japanese scouts were spotted at the games he played for AAA Lehigh Valley.

With Lehigh Valley, Ruf received an opportunity he’s never truly been able to get with the Phillies due to the longstanding presence of Howard: a chance to play every day and consistently accumulate plate appearances. He hit .294/.356/.529 in 390 trips to the plate for the IronPigs. 

Ruf has never made more than 300 plate appearances in a major league season and would struggle to crack that number if he remains in Philadelphia as a backup to Joseph, who will still be 25 on opening day next year.

“I learned [this year] that you can’t take anything for granted in this game,” Ruf said. “You’ve just got to keep working to get better every day, got to put up numbers no matter where you’re at in order to get to where you want. 

“Hopefully, wherever I’m at next year, I can do that.”

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Tonight's Lineup: Jorge Alfaro catches, bats 8th vs. Mets

Tonight's Lineup: Jorge Alfaro catches, bats 8th vs. Mets

Jorge Alfaro is behind the plate for the Phillies tonight and bats eighth. Alfaro has appeared in just four games since being called up earlier this month, and has just one hit in 10 at-bats. 

Tommy Joseph is back in the lineup and batting fifth. Pete Mackanin has said that Ryan Howard would get a lot of playing time during the last few games, but it is Joseph who gets the start tonight. Joseph is batting just .154 against the Mets this season. 

Odubel Herrera, who has been hitting well in September, will remain in the three spot. He has two homers and is batting .391 over the past week. Herrera has two hits in six at-bats against Mets' starter Sean Gilmartin. 

Phillies

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, RF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF 
4. Maikel Franco, 3B 
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Darin Ruf, LF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Alec Asher, P