Phillies late struggles continue with loss to Nationals
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Spencer Kieboom appeared to spit out a tooth before he hit his first major league home run, Erick Fedde pitched shutout ball into the sixth inning and the Washington Nationals beat the fading Philadelphia Phillies 3-1 on Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
The doubleheader was needed once Monday’s night’s game was postponed because of poor field conditions from weekend rain. The grounds crew used blow torches to dry a field that had not been covered with a tarp and players described as “spongy” and “soft.”
It’s the Phillies who are stuck in the mud.
The Phillies, who were 15 games over .500 in early August and in the thick of NL playoff race, have lost three straight games and are 6-15 since Aug. 18. They began the day five games behind Atlanta in the NL East.
Kieboom looked as if he spit out a tooth while he walked to the plate before hitting a solo home run in the fifth. He pointed to a gap in his teeth as he jogged back to the dugout.
With 20 active pitchers, Philadelphia manager Gabe Kapler nearly gave them all a turn. The game slowed to a crawl in a four-pitcher fifth.
Nick Pivetta (7-12) gave up Kieboom’s solo shot to right and a single to Fedde before he was yanked after one out and 91 pitches. Luis Avilan struck out one batter and was then relieved by Luis Garcia. After a walk, Kapler was at the mound for the hook again, signaling for lefty Adam Morgan to face Bryce Harper.
Harper hit an RBI single to right that made it 2-0, but was tagged out after he made too wide a turn around first and tried to slide back.
Hector Neris started the sixth and worked an inning. Tommy Hunter allowed one run over two innings and Austin Davis tossed a scoreless ninth as the last of seven pitchers.
Fedde, making his second start since he missed two months with a sore right shoulder, tossed one-hit ball through five until he ran into trouble in the sixth. Fedde (2-3) allowed a two-out single and a walk and was relieved by Justin Miller, who retired Andrew Knapp to end the rally.
The late afternoon start resulted in a sparse crowd for the first pitch. The 40-plus-person Phillies contingent in front of the dugout for the national anthem was larger than the bunch of fans in the upper deck.