Harper, Soto set pace for Nats' 7-HR barrage

Turner, Rendon, Goodwin, Reynolds all go deep as well

June 29th, 2018

PHILADELPHIA -- The Nationals needed a night like this, a cathartic barrage from an offense that has been dormant for nearly the entire month of June. They connected for seven home runs during a 17-7 drubbing of the Phillies on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, a new season-high, and in the process, seemingly swatting away a month's worth of frustrations.

"We needed that," manager Dave Martinez said. "The bats came alive and they came alive big."

wore a wide smile on his face as he got the offense started with a two-run homer two batters into the game.

Juan Soto became the first teenager in MLB history with four hits and two home runs.

drove Phillies starter out of the game with a three-run dinger after having just recorded five outs.

trotted around the bases for the first time since June 9. began the ninth inning with a home run to start another bombardment.

Soto rocketed a three-run homer into center field.  launched one into the left field stands and the Nats went back-to-back for the first time all season.

"It feels pretty good," Soto said. "Now, we're back. We come back, I hope we keep doing the same thing. We'll come tomorrow with the same plan and keep doing very good like today."

"Hitting is contagious," Harper added. "It's a lot of fun to be out there and a lot of fun to be a part of the game."

This outburst came at the right time. Entering Friday, the Nats had hit just 12 home runs in June, last in the Majors, while scoring the fewest amount of runs in the National League during that span. Then, they combined to hit seven home runs on Friday night alone, the most in a game since they connected for eight on July 27, 2017.

"It was just a matter of time," Martinez said. "I really believe these guys are good hitters. We talked a lot about getting balls in the strike zone and working counts, and today, they were really good."

Washington jumped out to an 11-0 advantage, which paved the way for 's first career victory. Pitching with a huge lead, the Phillies added a pair of home runs of their own in the fifth inning to push Fedde out the game after giving up five runs in five innings. Tim Collins surrendered a two-run homer to in the seventh, but after weeks of not leaving much margin for error, the Nats' offense had provided enough support.

It's too early to tell whether a victory like this can serve as a turnaround for their offensive woes, but for a night, the Nats' lineup produced like juggernauts.

"This lineup is really, really good," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "Even though they haven't been performing perfectly over the last couple of weeks, it's a giant of a lineup, a very deep lineup and a good lineup. They're going to make you pay for mistakes."


Just four players in MLB history have multiple multihomer games before turning 20. Soto joins a list that includes Harper, Mel Ott and Ken Griffey Jr.

"I just go and try to make a good swing, good contact, and the ball is going to do whatever it does," Soto said.


It had been 20 days since Harper's violent swing connected with enough authority to drive the ball over the fence. His homerless drought engulfed one of the worst slumps of his career, but it appears he is beginning to break out. Harper's home run in the fourth inning was his 20th of the year, already the sixth season of at least 20 home runs in his young career.

"I think getting that 20th home run really helps," Martinez said. "He got it out of the way and hopefully we move forward. But he had great at-bats today. Took his walks. Got some pitches in the strike zone. Missed one ball but really had good swings all day."

Harper reached base four times in this game (three walks) and has now reached safely in 18 of his last 34 plate appearances.

"Just getting a pitch over the plate," Harper said. "Walked another three times tonight. Keep walking and getting a pitch over the plate that I can drive, I'll be OK."


The Nationals will active right-hander from the disabled list to start Saturday night against the Phillies. It will be his first start since he strained his right hamstring on June 3. Hellickson spent parts of two seasons pitching in Philadelphia where he posted a 4.09 ERA. Vince Velasquez will be the opposing pitcher for the Phillies, with first pitch at 6:05 p.m. ET.