Seven relievers helped Nats in 10-4 comeback over the Phillies

Because of a rain delay that almost reached two hours, starter Tanner Roark was limited to three innings.

That left the Nats having to rely on seven different relievers to hold off the Phillies in a 10-4 win.

Left-hander Matt Grace did well in relief of Roark with two scoreless innings, but got into trouble when he could not record an out to start the sixth. He allowed four batters in a row to reach base and it looked like the Phillies had a chance to run away with the game.

But Jimmy Cordero and Wander Suero highlighted the bullpen’s resurgence as they kept the Phillies off the board for the final three innings.

Cordero (1-0) notched his first win with the Nats without allowing a run in the sixth. He gave up a Carlos Santana single that scored a run, but ended the Phillies’ rally at four runs after Grace struggled at the start of the frame.

Suero-Throws-Blue-Sidebar.jpgLater, Suero struck out Roman Quinn after the Phillies had loaded the bases and threatened another big inning in the eighth. They came away empty-handed, and that allowed the Nats to sustain momentum and pull away for the win.

Manager Davey Martinez said it was key for the Nats in their comeback win to have the bullpen, with Cordero and Suero excelling, slow down any attempts by the Phillies to rally. He told his new bullpen arms that they would be placed in high-leverage situations and get a chance to decide games.

“They were good,” Martinez said. “I spoke to all these guys, and I told them: You’re going to pitch in big moments now. You’ve got to be prepared. You’ve got to be ready. They did really well. Suero comes in with bases loaded and pumps strikes. He’s done well all year up here.”

Then in the ninth, Kelvin Herrera returned to pitch for the first time since Aug. 8 and tossed a scoreless frame to end the 10-4 win.

Martinez was thrilled to see his closer come back and deliver a 1-2-3 inning.

“Really nice. He looked great,” Martinez said. “We wanted him to get back, be comfortable again, use all his pitches and just go out there and face some big league hitters. He did that, and he did well.”

Herrera was out with a right rotator cuff impingement. The Nats bullpen was reeling since their rough trip through Chicago and St. Louis and then two losses at home against the Marlins. Without Sean Doolittle, the closer role was also up in the air. So it was critical to get Herrera back.

He said the clock seemed to move slowly as he rehabbed his injury.

“Those days seemed eternal for me,” Herrera said via team interpreter Octavio Martinez. “They took a long time, but the trainers did a good job of getting me back on the mound, and I felt good out there.”

Herrera was here earlier in the season when Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Doolittle were a part of the 7-8-9 shutdown innings. Now the bullpen has seven new faces. Did he think that chemistry with the new relievers would lead to disjointed outings?

No. Herrera still has confidence in the young pen.

“I feel like we have a great bullpen still,” Herrera said via Martinez. “They have a lot of talent with the young guys. They have a lot heart out there. They go out there and do their job. So, I still think we can still go out there and perform and do our job.”

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