Two-run homers bury Nats in series finale (updated)

PHILADELPHIA – It’s almost impossible to stop them. All you can really do is try to limit them.

“That team over there was built to hit home runs,” manager Davey Martinez said earlier this week.

That they were and they showed it as they took three of four games from the Nationals, who lost Thursday’s finale 6-2 in front of 30,113 fans at Citizens Bank Park.

It was the usual suspects for the Phillies, who scored all six of their runs on three two-run homers. And it wouldn’t be a Nats-Phillies game without a former National doing some damage.

It was Trea Turner’s turn tonight, hitting a go-ahead two-run home run in the sixth to give Philly a 2-1 lead. Then Nick Castellanos (his third in the last two games) and J.T. Realmuto each hit two-run shots to put this game out of reach in the seventh.

With Patrick Corbin on the mound, one might think he was the main culprit in allowing the Phillies to run up the scoreboard. But that was far from the case.

Corbin wasn’t too sharp tonight, but he was somehow effective. Although he allowed a baserunner in each of the first five innings – including a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the third – he put up zeros as the game remained scoreless heading into the sixth inning.

“I think just getting into a couple jams there, making some good pitches," Corbin said. "The bases loaded, no outs there got a couple ground balls there. Some of those spots, too, with guys on, you're being a little too careful and you may walk a guy.”

Given a 1-0 lead thanks to the first of Ildemaro Vargas’ two RBI doubles, Corbin was likely only going to face left-handed hitter Bryson Stott to start the bottom frame while at 83 pitches.

The southpaw got the ground ball he was looking for, but while covering first base, he dropped the toss from Dominic Smith to allow Stott to reach on an error. That brought Andrés Machado in from the bullpen to face the upcoming righties in the bottom of the Phillies lineup.

“Yep, he was gonna face the lefty," Martinez said. "Then just the ball cut on him at first base."

“Not a play that usually happens that far up the line," Corbin said. "I don't know if I lost it a little bit and just kind of nicked off the end of my glove. But I think a play that I'm able to make, just that time wasn't.”

Machado, who entered the night with five scoreless and hitless innings over his last five games, surrendered the two-run homer to Turner on the second pitch, a 97-mph fastball high and inside. The former Nationals shortstop’s 12th homer of the season traveled 404 feet into the left field bleachers.

"We had the matchup we were looking for," Martinez said. "Machado has been throwing the ball well, our bullpen has been throwing the ball well. When you face guys like Turner, you gotta execute pitches. He tried to go down and away, ball's right down the middle. But we had the matchup we were looking for. Patrick threw the ball well and kept us in a ballgame. He gave us five strong innings.”

That ended Corbin’s line after five innings plus one batter in the sixth, one hit, one unearned run, seven walks (a new career high) and two strikeouts, his ERA dropping to 4.85. He became the first major league pitcher with zero earned runs, one hit, seven walks and fewer than three strikeouts since the Cardinals’ Silvio Martinez on July 8, 1978.

“I think if you walk seven guys, you don't give up as many hits. So that's one way," Corbin said. "I don't know. I think that's the most I've had in my career or at least feels like it. So just not ideal. You're not trying to walk those guys with some of those guys in that lineup, but you try to stay on the corners, try to pitch the edges. Just was a little bit off today. They're a good team. They're playing good baseball. So to keep them in the ballpark today was I guess a positive. But just try to be a little more aggressive.”

After surrendering a single to Realmuto and a walk to Jake Cave, Joe La Sorsa entered to face the lefties at the top of the Phillies lineup. The lefty reliever was able to strike out Kyle Schwarber on a 75-mph fastball and then get Alex Bohm to fly out to left, limiting the damage and keeping the Nats within striking distance.

But La Sorsa couldn’t keep it that way for long.

To start the seventh, he issued a walk to Rodolfo Castro, who replaced an injured Bryce Harper in the fourth, and then surrendered the two-run homer to Castellanos, his 20th of the season and third in the last two games.

La Sorsa followed that by hitting Stott with an 87-mph sinker and giving up another two-run homer, this one to Realmuto, to put this game out of reach.

“La Sorsa came in and got big outs for us," Martinez said. "Sent him back out there. He battled, but once again, a couple of home runs beat him.”

Offensively, the Nationals struggled to drive runs in, mainly by the bottom three hitters. Hitters Nos. 1-6 went a combined 10-for-26 with two runs, two RBIs, a walk and seven strikeouts. Hitters Nos. 7-9 went a combined 0-for-12 with six strikeouts, including going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

“The bottom line here is we gotta score more than two runs in this ballpark," Martinez said. "We gotta start scoring runs. Bottom of the lineup just gotta start driving in some runs for us. We had some opportunities. We couldn't capitalize. But in this ballpark, we gotta put some runs on the board.”

The Nationals gave up 11 home runs to the Phillies over these four games, three of which the Phils hit multiple longballs. The Nationals hit five, with multi-homer efforts in the first two games.

“Playing teams like this one that's playing to be in the postseason, you know you have to go out there and do all the little things correct," said Vargas, via interpreter Octavio Martinez, after driving in both of the Nats' runs tonight. "You have to try to drive in every run you have the opportunity to drive in and defensively make every play you're able to make. That keeps you in the games and you have to make those plays obviously to try to win.”

The only game the Nats won in this four-game series is the one where they limited the Phillies to one home run, something that was probably pretty predictable at the beginning of the week.

“We had another above-.500 road trip, 4-3," Davey Martinez said. "So now we get a chance to go back home for a while and let's go 1-0 tomorrow.”

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