WASHINGTON (AP) — David Robertson forced home the game-ending run with a ninth-inning walk to Jake Noll, a rookie without a hit in his two previous major league at-bats, and the Nationals beat the previously unbeaten Phillies 9-8 Wednesday as Washington’s fans again booed Bryce Harper.
Noll was a non-roster invitee to spring training who might be headed to the minors on Thursday, when utilityman Howie Kendrick is expected to come off the 10-day injured list.
Robertson (0-1), a free agent signed to a $23 million, two-year contract, entered for the ninth and failed to record an out. He gave up a leadoff single to Anthony Rendon, then walked three batters in a row.
It was a fitting ending to a topsy-turvy game. Washington fell behind 2-0, went ahead 6-2 thanks to a trio of homers off Aaron Nola, then trailed 8-6 after giving up four runs in the eighth only to tie the score in the bottom half.
Nationals closer Sean Doolittle (2-0) worked the ninth for the win.
Philadelphia fell to 4-1 — it had been the last team in the majors without a loss — while NL East rival Washington improved to 2-3.
It was a far-less-eventful game from Harper in his second appearance against his former team since signing a $330 million, 13-year deal with the Phillies. He hit a pair of singles and was walked three times, twice intentionally.
In his return to D.C. on Tuesday night, when he was jeered constantly, Harper went 3 for 5 with a second-deck homer he celebrated with a twirling bat flip.
The Phillies batted in the eighth around against a trio of new relievers who were supposed to solidify Washington’s bullpen and instead have contributed to its instability.
Kyle Barraclough entered with the bases loaded to face Andrew McCutchen, and the 2013 NL MVP doubled to bring home all three runners. Jean Segura followed with an RBI single.
But Philadelphia’s fifth pitcher, Seranthony Dominguez, gave up two runs in the bottom half, the second scoring on an error charged to first baseman Rhys Hoskins.
Much, much earlier, Juan Soto hit a three-run shot for his first homer this season, and Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman also went deep against Aaron Nola, knocking him out after just three innings in his worst start in more than 18 months.
Nola, third in NL Cy Young Award voting last year, hadn’t allowed more than four runs in any of his preceding 38 starts, dating to September 2017, the longest active streak among starters and longest by a member of Phillies since at least 1908. But he gave up six runs and five hits.
Anibal Sanchez’s Nationals debut ended abruptly when he came out to warm up for the fifth inning but was removed before throwing an official pitch. That was the third time he was visited by a trainer: He came up hobbling from a comebacker he gloved in the third; he was checked during an at-bat of his own.
Nationals: SS Trea Turner went on the 10-day IL after breaking his right index finger while trying to bunt in the first inning Tuesday. The Nationals recalled INF Adrián Sanchez from Triple-A Fresno.
Phillies: After an off day, they’ll open a three-game series at home against the Minnesota Twins. RHP Nick Pavetta will start Friday for Philadelphia against RHP Jake Odorizzi.
Nationals: Head to New York for the Mets’ home opener on Thursday, when RHP Stephen Strasburg will face RHP Noah Syndergaard for the second time this season. Both gave up four runs in six innings and neither factored in the decision when the Mets beat the Nationals 11-8 last week.
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