PHILADELPHIA -- Even if the Nationals cannot pull off an improbable comeback toward the postseason these final three weeks, Juan Soto remains one of the primary reasons for excitement and optimism going forward. Consider his contributions during Tuesday's doubleheader sweep at Citizens Bank Park.In the first game, Soto went 2-for-4
PHILADELPHIA -- Even if the Nationals cannot pull off an improbable comeback toward the postseason these final three weeks, Juan Soto remains one of the primary reasons for excitement and optimism going forward. Consider his contributions during Tuesday's doubleheader sweep at Citizens Bank Park.
In the first game, Soto went 2-for-4 at the plate and made a leaping, highlight-reel grab into the stands in foul territory. And he powered the Nationals in the nightcap, launching a pair of home runs, including the go-ahead solo homer in the 10th inning, to lead the Nats' to a 7-6 victory over the Phillies.
It was the third multi-homer game of this phenomenal rookie season for Soto, who also connected on a two-run homer in the fourth, making him the first teenager in MLB history with three multi-homer games. Soto now has hit 18 home runs this season, surpassing Ken Griffey Jr. for the fourth most by a teenager in MLB history.
"He's very talented," manager Dave Martinez said. "I've never seen a 19-year-old swing and be that patient at the plate. He really concentrates on hitting strikes. He works counts. He's really good. He's 19, but he plays this game like he's been in this league for a long time."
The win moves the Nationals back above .500 as their winning streak extends to four games -- their longest since a six-game streak at the end of May. The Nats have swept two doubleheaders in the past four days, after they had not previously swept a doubleheader since October 2015. Now they are approaching the Phillies for second place in the National League East, closing the gap between the teams to 1 1/2 games.
"Everybody shows up to work every day expecting to win," said Greg Holland, who tossed scoreless innings in both games on Tuesday and got the save in the nightcap. "[The season] hasn't [gone] as well as everyone thought it would, but we've got a lot of professionals in here that keep preparing and doing their job as best they can every single day."
At the start of the day, the Nats were unsure how much baseball they would be able to play, skeptical how the field would respond to two games and the inclement weather approaching. But the field and the weather held firm, a welcome sight after days of weather issues.
Washington trailed by three runs entering the ninth inning but rallied against Phillies right-hander Seranthony Dominguez to push the game into extras with RBI singles from Matt Wieters and Andrew Stevenson and a bases-loaded walk to Trea Turner. That paved the way for Soto's heroics in the 10th, when he swatted a 402-foot dinger into the opposite field.
"If you win, you'll be good," Soto said, on the challenge of playing through a doubleheader. "And just get back home and get rest."
Soto provided the offense early, giving Tanner Roark a 3-0 advantage as the right-hander cruised through four scoreless innings before he ran into trouble in the fifth. The Phillies collected seven hits during the five-run frame, knocking Roark out of the game. He was tagged for five runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. Roark had turned his season around following the All-Star break, but he has struggled in his three most recent starts, giving up 15 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings (8.62 ERA).
"Honestly I don't know, just execution on some pitches," Roark said. "I should have slowed the game down a little bit more, took a deep breath ... but, I mean, who cares what I did today? We won. We came back and won a great game today, so that's all that matters."
Soto is now within striking distance of the third-most homers by a teenager. His 18 homers now trail only Tony Conigliaro (24), Bryce Harper (22) and Mel Ott (19). Soto has reached safely in 13 of his past 16 games and is batting .393 with 15 RBIs during that span.
HE SAID IT
"His patience. You never know if he's going to swing first pitch or if he's going to take, and if you make a mistake, he puts a good swing on it and hits it hard somewhere, and he showed tonight. … I would say his eye at the plate, knowing ball or strike immediately and spitting on a pitch or taking that pitch to left field, right field, center field, wherever." -- Roark, on Soto
The Nationals and Phillies wrap up their season series with a marquee pitching matchup Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park. Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the Nats against the Phillies' Aaron Nola, one of the front-runners for the National League Cy Young Award. Strasburg's first two starts off the DL came against the Phillies last month (6.30 ERA), but he has been much sharper in his two outings since (3.09 ERA). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.