PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies spoiled Bryce Harper's return from the disabled list, catapulted by a two-run double from Cameron Rupp that led them to a 4-1 victory over the Nationals on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Philadelphia got another solid start from right-hander Jake Thompson, who gave up one run in five-plus innings with five strikeouts and two walks. He has now allowed just two earned runs over his past 15 1/3 innings, a span of three starts.
The win, number 63 on the season, guaranteed the Phillies' season would not end with triple-digits in the loss column.
"When I said that 98, 99 or 100 losses didn't matter, I lied. I admit it," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.
Thompson limited the damage from the Nationals' offense even with Harper inserted back into the lineup for his first game since Aug. 12. Harper went 0-for-2 with a walk before he was replaced by Victor Robles in right field in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"[Harper] looked pretty good," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "His timing's off a little bit, but he moved around good. I didn't see any signs of limping or real fatigue. So we got him out of there at, we thought, the right time."
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The only offense from Washington on the night came from a solo homer from Howie Kendrick in the second. Meanwhile, left-hander Giovany Gonzalez struggled with his command and issued five walks and gave up three runs in five innings with seven strikeouts.
"I should've done a better job of attacking the strike zone," Gonzalez said. "If I was more in the strike zone I think it would've been a different outcome. I can't put it on anything else but myself and say throw more strikes."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Harper returns: One of the Nationals' primary goals during the final stretch of this season will be to ease Harper back into action and get him comfortable on the field before the start of the National League Division Series. In his first at-bat in 42 games, Harper drew a walk in the first inning, putting a pair of runners at first and second right away as the Nationals threatened to score in the first inning. However, Thompson induced a double-play ground ball from Anthony Rendon before he struck out Ryan Zimmerman to escape the jam.
The Nationals plan to treat this week like a mini Spring Training for Harper, easing him back into action. They say they are not concerned about his results at the plate, but simply his comfort level and timing when the playoffs begin.
"I was trying to go up there and get a pitch over the plate," Harper said. "Wasn't able to that first at-bat, but got a couple I could that second AB and third AB as well. So, felt good. Try to see what I feel like tomorrow and try to get back out there." More >
Rupp's two-run double: Rupp delivered the big strike for the Phillies, punctuating a three-run third inning with a two-run double to center field to give Philadelphia an advantage. Michael A. Taylor appeared to have a chance at Rupp's line drive, but he misread the ball and moved in instead of heading back and the ball sailed over his head.
"I was happy to see Rupp drive in those two runs with the double," Mackanin said. "He hasn't played that much lately, but he had good numbers off Gio."
After his double, walk and strikeout against Gonzalez, Rupp is 6-for-16 (.375) with three doubles and three walks in his career against the Nats' left-hander.
Nationals: The Nationals wrap up their season series with the Phillies in the rubber game Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Tanner Roark will take the mound having not given up more than three runs in a start since July 29.
Phillies:Mark Leiter (3-6, 4.69 ERA) will take the mound for the final time in 2017 in Wednesday's series finale. The long man with a nearly never-ending arsenal has held his own since being thrust into a starting role due to injuries in mid-August.
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