By Peter Marks
J.T. Realmuto hit a tiebreaking home run in the sixth inning and the Phillies defeated the Washington Nationals 4-2 to snap a five-game losing streak.
Realmuto, Bryce Harper and Josh Harrison each had two hits for the Phillies, who began the day tied with the Nationals for last place in the NL East.
Realmuto doubled and scored in the second inning before homering into the Phillies bullpen in left center leading off the sixth. Since his last two-hit game on May 17, he was 3 for 43 (.070) with one extra-base hit and no RBI.
“Did a lot of work before the game in the cage trying to clean up my bat path a little bit, get on time a little better and try not to lose my barrel in my swing,” Realmuto said.
“Felt a little better out there today.”
The Phils used seven pitchers in a bullpen game and they held Washington to seven hits, all singles, while striking our four and walking two. Dylan Covey (1-1) worked two innings for the win. Matt Strahm set the tone with two perfect innings to open and Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his eighth save.
“The biggest thing was everybody came in and threw strikes,” Realmuto said. “I feel like we got a lot of first-pitch outs. A lot of 0-1 counts, lot of 0-2 counts. Everyone just came in and pounded the strike zone.”
Washington starter MacKenzie Gore (3-4) went six innings and gave up three runs and nine hits. He struck out six without a walk.
Harrison gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead when his second-inning single scored Realmuto. Trea Turner’s double scored Edmundo Rosa to make it 2-0 in the third.
Consecutive singles by Joey Meneses, Dominic Smith and Keibert Ruiz plated Washington’s first run in the fourth. CJ Abrams then grounded to first. Drew Ellis stepped on the bag to get Abrams, and Smith scored the tying run before Ruiz was tagged out to complete the double play.
Washington’s Lane Thomas was called out on strikes with two runners on base in the third inning and one on in the fifth. Both pitches appeared out of the strike zone.
“Let’s be honest, they were horrible,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of the called strikes by umpire Ben May. “We’re gonna be honest about that one. It was two horrific calls. It stinks as a hitter. You go there battling and you get called strikes like that.”