WASHINGTON – Andres Blanco made the most of a rare start. He homered and doubled to lead the Phillies to a 4-3 win over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.
The win pushed the Phillies’ early-season record to 10-10. They are 2-2 against the Nationals, who entered the game with the best record in the majors.
Blanco had a two-run homer in the first. He scored the go-ahead run after doubling in the seventh.
Starting pitching report
Vince Velasquez gave up three runs in six innings. He struck out four. He exited with a one-run lead after throwing just 84 pitches. The Phillies seem to be making an effort to watch Velasquez’s pitch count after he threw 113 pitches in his 16-strikeout game against San Diego on April 14.
Velasquez is 3-1.
Washington’s Max Scherzer went six innings and allowed seven hits and three runs. One of the hits was a two-run homer by Blanco, the second batter of the game. Scherzer battled command issues and a high pitch count. He walked four, but was able to pitch out of trouble several times with the help of seven strikeouts.
The Phillies’ bullpen pitched three scoreless innings.
David Hernandez pitched out of trouble to protect a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh. He struck out Ryan Zimmerman looking at a breaking ball for the third out with two men on base. Hernandez has 16 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings.
Hector Neris pitched a scoreless eighth. Jeanmar Gomez earned his fifth save and it was a gutsy one. He retired dangerous Bryce Harper, the 2015 NL MVP, on a grounder to third to end the game with the tying run on first base.
Washington lefty Oliver Perez took the loss.
At the plate
Blanco got the start at shortstop in place of resting Freddy Galvis. He delivered big. He smacked a two-run homer in the first inning and doubled and scored the go-ahead run on a double by Maikel Franco in the seventh. He finished the night with three hits.
Franco has nine RBIs in four games on this trip.
Cesar Hernandez had three singles.
Odubel Herrera was on base three times. He has reached base in 17 straight games.
The Nationals scored their first run on a successful safety squeeze bunt by Danny Espinosa in the second inning. Harper and Zimmerman both had RBI singles with two outs in the fifth.
In the field
Franco made a great diving play at third base to save a run in the third inning. However, he made a poor decision trying to turn a 5-3 double play instead of going around the horn and it probably cost the Phillies two runs in the fifth.
Charlie Morton could be out for an extended period of time with a strained left hamstring. Adam Morgan will take his spot in the rotation (see story).
Outfielder Cedric Hunter cleared waivers and was taken off the 40-man roster. Hunter, who was the Phillies’ opening-day leftfielder, remains at Triple A Lehigh Valley.
The series continues Wednesday night. Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 5.21) opposes lefty Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 1.42).