WASHINGTON (AP) — Andres Blanco’s three hits included a two-run homer and he scored the go-ahead run on Maikel Franco’s seventh-inning double, helping the Philadelphia Phillies edge Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals 4-3 Tuesday night.
Jeanmar Gomez, Philadelphia’s fourth pitcher, got Harper to ground out to third with a man on first in the ninth to end the game and earn his fifth save.
Before the game, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin spoke about “a theory” for how to pitch to reigning MVP Harper, who came in leading the NL in homers and RBIs.
Philadelphia walked Harper three times, but he delivered a run-scoring single off Vincent Velasquez (3-1) in the fifth.
After Blanco doubled off reliever Oliver Perez (1-1) with one out in the seventh, Maikel Franco sent a shot off the wall that center fielder Michael A. Taylor jumped for but failed to glove. Franco stumbled and fell rounding the bag at first but still made it to second, while Blanco scored (WATCH).
Franco was visited by a trainer and flexed his right leg but stayed in.
Both starting pitchers, Velasquez and Washington’s Max Scherzer, allowed three runs in six innings.
Scherzer’s evening began about as poorly as can be: He walked leadoff batter Odubel Herrera on four pitches, then gave up Blanco’s first homer of the season, a two-run shot to right-center off a 94 mph fastball that made it 2-0.
It’s already the fifth home run allowed by Scherzer this season, continuing a trend from the second half of 2015, when he finished with a total of 27 homers allowed.
The Phillies led 3-1 heading to the bottom of the fifth, when Harper and Ryan Zimmerman delivered consecutive two-out RBI singles off Velasquez to make it 3-all.
Nationals C Wilson Ramos was put on the bereavement list before the game because of the death of his grandfather. Washington recalled C Pedro Severino from Triple-A Syracuse to replace Ramos on the roster.
PITCHER HITS 8TH
Mackanin lately has been batting his pitcher in the No. 8 spot and did so again for the fifth consecutive game Tuesday, with RF Peter Bourjos in the No. 9 hole. “I have a few players who aren’t swinging the bats, so it makes more sense to me to do that, to have a position player in front of the leadoff man. That just seems to make sense right now,” Mackanin explained. “Once those guys start swinging the bat, I might not do it. But right now it just makes more sense.”
Phillies: Team is not yet certain of the severity of RHP Charlie Morton’s strained left hamstring. He was hurt in his start Saturday in Milwaukee and went on the DL on Sunday. “Apparently, his MRI wasn’t as good as we were hoping,” Mackanin said. “We’re going to see what happens in the next two or three days and see what the next step is.” Morton (1-1) has a 4.15 ERA in 17 1/3 innings.
Nationals: RHP Matt Belisle exited the game because of an apparent injury after facing one batter in the eighth inning. … RHP Joe Ross, who left his previous start because of a blister on his throwing hand, said he thinks he’ll be able to take his turn when it comes around again. … CF Ben Revere, on the DL since opening day with a strained right side muscle, took batting practice before the game and said he is pain-free now.
Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 1.42 ERA) faces RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 5.21 ERA) in Wednesday’s second game of the three-game series.