WASHINGTON -- The Phillies learned Tuesday afternoon that the Nationals had traded Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams to contenders outside the National League East. They placed Bryce Harper on revocable waivers, too, although they pulled him back once the Dodgers reportedly claimed him. The trades meant the Nationals had raised
WASHINGTON -- The Phillies learned Tuesday afternoon that the Nationals had traded Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams to contenders outside the National League East. They placed Bryce Harper on revocable waivers, too, although they pulled him back once the Dodgers reportedly claimed him. The trades meant the Nationals had raised the white flag on their season.
Theoretically, the trades meant the Phillies had a clearer path to the postseason.
But the Phillies lost to Washington in Tuesday's series opener, 10-4, to fall two games behind the first-place Braves in the NL East. The Phillies are 5-9 since they beat the Marlins on Aug. 5 to move a season-high 15 games over .500. They are 10-13 over their past 23 games, despite trades that brought them Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilson Ramos, Justin Bour and Aaron Loup to improve the offense and bullpen.
"There's a lot of baseball left. I don't think there's any reason to hit the panic button right now," Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez said. "I trust in our team. I think we'll just keep moving forward. I don't think there's anything to be worried about."
The Phillies must beat Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday and Max Scherzer on Thursday to win the three-game series against the Nats. The Phillies have not won a series since they swept the Marlins in a four-game set from Aug. 2-5.
"I would say that the Nationals have been a dangerous team since Opening Day and they will be a dangerous team until the last game of the season," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "That lineup is really good from top to bottom and they demonstrated that tonight. But we never would take them lightly, whether they have Matt Adams and Daniel Murphy on the bench or they're rolling out the lineup that they had tonight."
The night looked promising entering the bottom of the sixth inning. Roman Quinn hit the first homer of his big league career to tie the game in the top half of the frame. It sparked a four-run rally as the Phillies took a 4-1 lead.
But the Phillies' bullpen imploded. It had the best ERA in baseball since July 1, but nobody could hold off the Nationals. Victor Arano allowed back-to-back homers to pinch-hitter Andrew Stevenson and Wilmer Difo in the sixth as the Nationals scored five runs to take a 6-4 lead. Adam Morgan allowed one run in two-thirds of an inning. Edubray Ramos allowed one run in one inning. Yacksel Rios allowed three runs in one inning and was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after the game.
The Phillies, meanwhile, could not score after the sixth. They left the bases loaded in the eighth.
"I think very similarly to what we have said all year, we are going to go through some tough stretches," Kapler said. "This is a bit of a prolonged stretch and we need to pay very close attention to it and we need to be responsive to the little things that we see that we can improve, and we will. But certainly we understand that really good teams go through tough stretches, and this has been one that has been difficult."
VELASQUEZ RETURNS AFTER LONG DELAY
A one-hour, 42-minute rain delay in the middle of the third inning could have cut Velasquez's night short, but he returned to pitch the third and fourth innings. Velasquez allowed three hits, one run and one walk. He struck out three. Scott Kingery pinch-hit for him with a runner on first and two outs in the fifth.
"We've done a lot of work on this one," Kapler said. "There's not a lot of evidence that says it's a certain threshold -- 45 pitches, 45 minutes, an hour and a half, two hours. There's no real threshold. The one thing we know is if we keep simulating the ups and downs during the delay by working in the cage, keeping the body moving and delivering some pitches, and you count those pitches, you can send your starter back out there."
Arano allowed a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth to Stevenson, who hit an 0-1 slider. It was the first homer Arano surrendered on a slider in his big league career. The whiff rate on his slider (44.2 percent) ranked 34th out of 147 relievers in baseball.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera made a four-star catch to end the fourth inning. Herrera traveled 47 feet in 3.4 seconds to make the diving catch. The ball had a 42 percent catch probability, according to Statcast™.
HE SAID IT
"It was a good feeling. But I'm still a little upset about bases loaded, going down swinging right there, key situation in the game. I had a chance to make something happen right there, but I didn't come through." -- Quinn, on his first homer. He later struck out with the bases loaded to end the eighth. The Nationals held a 7-4 lead at the time.
Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin will be recalled to face Strasburg on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET in the second game of a three-game series at Nationals Park. The Phillies optioned Eflin two weekends ago after he started in San Diego in an effort to find "value at the margins," giving them an extra bench player while knowing he would not miss a start because he would be the team's 26th man last Thursday in a doubleheader against the Mets.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.