Late HR sinks Phils in Scherzer-Wheeler duel

July 29th, 2021

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies haven’t caught a break against Nationals ace Max Scherzer in seven years.

Why would they ever expect one on Thursday?

Scherzer had been the subject of trade speculation for weeks, so the possibility existed that he could be traded before he faced the Phillies in Game 1 of Thursday’s straight seven-inning doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park. But Scherzer pitched as scheduled. He allowed one run in six innings to send the Phillies to a 3-1 loss.

The Phillies (50-51) fell below .500 once more.

If Scherzer is traded before Friday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline, he will finish his Nationals career 13-3 with a 2.42 ERA in 22 starts against the Phillies. He is 8-1 with a 2.33 ERA in 11 career starts against them at Citizens Bank Park.

Phillies ace -- who went the distance -- allowed a run in the second inning. ’s homer to left field in the fourth tied it. But after Gerardo Parra doubled off Wheeler to start the seventh, Yan Gomes ripped a two-run homer to center field to give Washington a two-run lead.

Gomes hit a 1-1 sinker down the middle.

“I wanted it inside, it went back over the middle and he made me pay for it,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler had been scheduled to pitch Wednesday, but the game was postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the Nationals clubhouse. The Phillies started left-hander Cristopher Sánchez in Game 2. Then they announced right-hander Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola and Spencer Howard will pitch over the weekend against the Pirates.

It suggests the Phillies might not be super confident they will acquire a starting pitcher before Friday’s Trade Deadline. If they were, they could have had Velasquez start the seven-inning game in Game 2, then have Nola, Howard and Matt Moore pitch in Pittsburgh on normal rest.

Asked if he is hopeful the Phillies will make a trade or two to help them down the stretch, Wheeler said, “That’s out of my hands, but hopefully so.”