Soto’s homer in 9th lifts Nationals over Phillies 4-3

Aaron Nola
Philadelphia Phillies’ Aaron Nola pitches during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Saturday, July 13, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) (AP/Matt Slocum)
Patrick Corbin
Washington Nationals’ Patrick Corbin pitches during the third inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Saturday, July 13, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) (AP/Matt Slocum)
Cesar Hernandez
Philadelphia Phillies’ Cesar Hernandez reacts after hitting an RBI-double off Washington Nationals starting pitcher Patrick Corbin during the second inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 13, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) (AP/Matt Slocum)
Cesar Hernandez, Brian Dozier
Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez, left, throws to first base after forcing out Washington Nationals’ Brian Dozier at second on a fielder’s choice hit by Victor Robles during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 13, 2019, in Philadelphia. Robles was safe at first on the play. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) (AP/Matt Slocum)
Maikel Franco
Philadelphia Phillies’ Maikel Franco rounds the bases after hitting a home run off Washington Nationals starting pitcher Patrick Corbin during the second inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 13, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) (AP/Matt Slocum)
Cesar Hernandez
Philadelphia Phillies’ Cesar Hernandez, left, follows through after hitting an RBI-double off Washington Nationals starting pitcher Patrick Corbin during the second inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 13, 2019, in Philadelphia. Nationals catcher Yan Gomes, right, looks on. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) (AP/Matt Slocum)
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Aaron Nola
Patrick Corbin
Cesar Hernandez
Cesar Hernandez, Brian Dozier
Maikel Franco
Cesar Hernandez

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Juan Soto walked up to the plate expecting to see a splitter and he hammered the first one he saw.

Soto hit a go-ahead two-run homer off closer Hector Neris with two outs in the ninth and the Washington Nationals rallied for a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night.

“I was looking for it and he hung it,” Soto said. “It felt amazing.”

Soto crushed a three-run homer in the 10th inning in Philadelphia on April 9 to lead the Nationals to a 10-6 win.

“I can’t say enough about him, being 20,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He doesn’t shy away from big moments. He’s a good hitter. He has a plan when he’s in the batter’s box.”

Neris (1-4) retired the first two batters before Anthony Rendon hit a single. Soto blasted the next pitch out to left-center for his 16th homer, capping a comeback from a 3-0 deficit against Aaron Nola.

Wander Suero (2-4) got two outs to earn the win and Sean Doolittle finished for his 20th save in 24 tries.

The second-place Nationals have won 17 of 21 and moved 2½ games ahead of the struggling Phillies, who are 14-23 since leading the NL East by 3½ games on May 29.

“It’s a tough stretch,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “We understand this isn’t the level of baseball we can play to reach the postseason and go deep, but we’re resilient.”

Nola gave up five hits and one run, striking out nine in six innings in his fifth straight stellar outing. He has a 0.76 ERA in that span. But Neris blew his third save of the season to cost Nola his ninth win.

“I don’t think we’re down,” Nola said. “It’s not over yet. There’s a lot of talent left. We know we’re good enough to win.”

Nationals lefty Patrick Corbin allowed three runs and six hits in six innings, striking out 10. He allowed three earned runs in his previous four starts combined.

“Corbin kept us in the game and our offense keeps plugging away,” Martinez said.

The Phillies jumped ahead 2-0 in the second. Rhys Hoskins led off with a bloop double off first baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s glove and scored when Cesar Hernandez lined an RBI double down the left-field line. After Hernandez was caught stealing third, Maikel Franco launched his 14th homer into the left-field seats.

Franco’s sacrifice fly in the fourth increased the lead to 3-0.

After Nola walked two hitters in the sixth, Victor Robles drove in a run on a bloop single.

The Nationals cut it to 3-2 in the eighth off Adam Morgan when Soto scored from third after Franco booted Robles’ grounder for an error. Franco made a couple excellent plays before his miscue.

GLOVE WORK

Phillies center fielder Roman Quinn received a standing ovation after making a leaping, diving catch on the warning track to rob Adam Eaton of extra bases in the fifth.

STRONG ARM

Bryce Harper made a no-hop throw from the warning track in right-center field to third base to prevent Robles from stretching a double into a triple in the second inning.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer was placed on the 10-day injury list retroactive to July 10 with a mid-back strain and C Spencer Kieboom was recalled from Double-A Harrisburg. Scherzer was originally supposed to start Sunday before his outing was pushed back to Tuesday. He landed on the injury list after throwing a bullpen session before the game.

Phillies: INF Sean Rodriguez was placed on the 10-day injury list with a right abdominal strain and OF Adam Haseley was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

UP NEXT

RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-6, 3.66 ERA) goes for the Nationals and Jake Arrieta (8-7, 4.67) takes the mound for the Phillies on Sunday. Sanchez is 5-11 against Philadelphia, including 0-2 this season. Arrieta is 1-3 in 15 career starts vs. Washington.

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