Phillies 12, Nationals 10
Fantasy baseball: Four hot hitters
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Abraham Nunez has gone through enough hard times this season that he isn’t going to take anything for granted now.
Nunez went 13-for-39 (.333) with a homer and eight RBIs on Philadelphia’s 10-game homestand to raise his batting average to .198. When he took over the starting job at third base after David Bell was traded to Milwaukee on July 30, Nunez was hitting .141.
“I can’t assume I’m out of it,” he said of his hitting problems. “It’s a tough game to play. You have to respect the game. Maybe I say something and I go into a deeper slump.”
Nunez had three hits, Aaron Rowand went 4-for-5 and scored three times and Mike Lieberthal homered for the Phillies, who led 10-1 after four innings. Lieberthal and Pat Burrell each drove in two runs.
Philadelphia has won two straight and remains 2 1/2 games back of Cincinnati in the NL wild-card race. The Phillies went 6-4 on their homestand, improving to 61-62 overall, and begin a 10-game trip on Monday against the Chicago Cubs.
“I’ve felt that if we get to .500, I think we’d take off a little bit,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “If we continue to play the way we are, we will take off and make a run (at the postseason).”
Before the game, Manuel “got on Nunez” a little bit, telling him that he had to be aggressive and get some pitches to hit.
Nunez responded with a single, double and three-run homer.
“I wanted to be aggressive,” Nunez said. “I’ve been working hard on what (Manuel) has told me to improve upon.”
Brandon Harper homered twice and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who have lost two straight and three of their last four.
Philadelphia has rolled up impressive offensive numbers since July 29 with 165 runs in its last 23 games. The Phillies are 15-8 and have scored double-digit runs seven times during the span.
“We’re scoring some runs and playing good baseball, we have to carry the momentum over to the road trip,” Rowand said. “There are no unimportant games left in the season.”
Randy Wolf (2-0) struck out a season-high eight over five-plus innings. He has won his last seven decisions dating to 2005. He yielded six runs and nine hits with three walks.
Philadelphia battered Nationals starter Pedro Astacio (3-3) for seven runs and six hits in two-plus innings. Astacio was coming off a two-hit shutout against Atlanta on Tuesday.
Burrell’s check-swing RBI single scored Jimmy Rollins in the first and Lieberthal made it 2-0 with a solo homer to left field in the second inning. It was Lieberthal’s fifth homer and his second of the homestand. Shane Victorino’s RBI groundout made it 3-0 in the second.
The Phillies scored four times in the third against Astacio to take a 7-1 lead. They strung together four consecutive hits, including an RBI double by Burrell and back-to-back RBI singles by Lieberthal and Nunez. Wolf made it 7-1 with a sacrifice fly to left.
Nunez hit a three-run homer to right off Chris Schroder in the fourth. It was his second homer of the season.
Harper connected for his first major league homer in the third and added a three-run drive in the sixth. Harper had just seven big league at-bats going into the game.
The Nationals sent 11 hitters to the plate in the sixth and scored six runs. Austin Kearns’ run-scoring fielder’s choice cut the deficit to 10-8, but Ryan Madson struck out pinch-hitter Daryle Ward with the tying runs on base to end the inning.
Washington manager Frank Robinson was upset with several calls that went against his team in the later innings, both involving plays at third base with Damian Jackson.
“We should still be playing,” he said. “It’s frustrating. You go out and battle, but don’t the calls and it costs you.
“There’s no satisfaction that we battled back. We lost the game.”
Washington committed five errors, including three by Jackson, who entered the game in the fifth inning.
Schroder turned 28 on Sunday. … Washington reliever Travis Hughes singled in his first major league plate appearance in the fifth inning. … The Phillies are 17-5 on Sundays. … Philadelphia’s Chase Utley went 0-for-4. He went 9-for-41 (.220) with three RBIs during the homestand.