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Kapler's gambles fall short as Phils drop G1

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Gabe Kapler will not discuss the fact that time is running out on the Phillies, even if he is managing like it.

He used 23 different players, including four shortstops, in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Little worked in a 3-1 loss, which left the Phillies 5 1/2 games behind the Braves in the National League East with 19 games to play.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Gabe Kapler will not discuss the fact that time is running out on the Phillies, even if he is managing like it.

He used 23 different players, including four shortstops, in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Little worked in a 3-1 loss, which left the Phillies 5 1/2 games behind the Braves in the National League East with 19 games to play.

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"When you have deeper rosters, you have more players, you have more bullets to fire," Kapler said. "You don't have to conserve. You can go after the moment and try to win that moment."

Does he like that about September baseball?

"I like winning," he said.

Video: WSH@PHI: Franco plates Santana with pinch-hit single

The Phillies have won just twice in nine games this month as their postseason chances dwindle. It is hard to remember, but the Phillies had the second-best record in the National League (63-48) on Aug. 5.

They are 11-21 since.

It should not have surprised anybody that Kapler got aggressive in Game 1. Phillies first baseman Justin Bour doubled in the first inning and walked in the fourth against Nationals right-hander Erick Fedde, who entered the game with a 6.00 ERA. Kapler had Scott Kingery pinch-run for Bour in the fourth.

Carlos Santana grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Video: WSH@PHI: Turner begins 6-3 double play on Santana

"Trying to win the baseball game as quickly as you can, trying to get on the board then have the pitchers protect the lead for you," Kapler said, explaining the decision to pinch-run for Bour. "The other thing that's really important to note -- and I can't stress it enough -- is the next time Bour comes up it's not necessarily their starting pitcher on the mound. At that point, they have three lefties to go to. So it's not Bour against Fedde necessarily the next time we go around. In fact, I think there's a high probability they match up if Bour is sitting in that spot. We have that in mind prior to the game."

Nationals catcher Spencer Kieboom hit the first homer of his career in the fifth, a solo shot to right field against Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta. Fedde followed with a single.

Then Kapler went to his 15-man bullpen.

Left-hander Luis Avilan replaced Pivetta and struck out Adam Eaton. Right-hander Luis Garcia replaced Avilan and walked Trea Turner, putting runners on first and second. Left-hander Adam Morgan replaced Garcia and gave up a single to right field to Bryce Harper, allowing Fedde to score to make it 2-0.

Video: WSH@PHI: Harper plates Fedde with 2-out single in 5th

The Phillies used four pitchers in the span of four batters.

"It gives you courage to be ultra-aggressive and try to win every moment of the game," said Kapler, who was booed when he replaced Garcia with Morgan.

But those moments have been few and far between the past few weeks. He hoped for better in Game 2, but time is running out.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
J.P. Crawford made a rare appearance in the eighth inning, hitting a pinch-hit double off the right-field wall, raising his batting average to .200. Crawford's 2018 season has been a disappointment.

Crawford entered the season as the everyday shortstop, but then missed more than a month because of a strained right forearm and nearly two months because of a broken left hand. Once he got healthy last month he was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, only to rejoin the team on Sept. 4. Crawford is expected to see minimal action while the Phillies' postseason chances remain alive.

Video: WSH@PHI: Crawford rips double off the wall in right

SOUND SMART
Asdrubal Cabrera, Pedro Florimon, Kingery and Crawford each saw action at shortstop. The Phillies last used four different shortstops in a game on Sept. 23, 1962, in a loss to the Reds at Connie Mack Stadium (Tony Taylor, Billy Klaus, Ruben Amaro Sr. and Bobby Wine). They used a franchise-record five shortstops on May 8, 1949, in a loss to the Reds at Shibe Park (Granny Hamner, Putsy Caballero, Buddy Blattner, Ken Silvestri and Eddie Miller).

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Jorge Alfaro displayed his cannon arm in the seventh inning. Phillies right-hander Tommy Hunter threw a pitch to the backstop with Andrew Stevenson on first with two outs, but the ball bounced directly back to Alfaro. He made a 91.9 mph throw to second base to get Stevenson and end the inning. It was his third-hardest throw to second base this season, according to Statcast™.

Video: WSH@PHI: Alfaro plays the carom, throws out Stevenson

HE SAID IT
"Speaking of time, we don't have time to sense anything other than preparing for the next game and really doing everything we possibly can to be ready and have all of our ducks in a row." -- Kapler, on the Phillies' deficit to Atlanta with 19 games to play

UP NEXT
Phillies ace Aaron Nola (16-4, 2.29 ERA) faces Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg (7-7, 4.04 ERA) in Wednesday night's 7:05 p.m. ET series finale at Citizens Bank Park. Nola remains a National League Cy Young Award candidate in a three-pitcher race along with the Nationals' Max Scherzer and the Mets' Jacob deGrom.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Philadelphia Phillies, Jorge Alfaro, J.P. Crawford