Chew on this: Spencer Kieboom chipped a tooth, then cracked a smile on his first major league home run.
Kieboom pointed at the hole in his mouth to show that, yes, he's a pretty good gap hitter.
The rookie catcher lost a tooth hours before he homered, 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.
Kieboom looked as if he spit out a tooth while he walked to the plate in the fifth. It was just a big spitball. He pointed to the gap as he jogged back to the dugout after the solo homer.
"I think I was screaming louder than anyone when he hit it," said Fedde, the on-deck batter.
Kieboom is waiting on veneers and lost half a temporary tooth earlier at breakfast when he bit into a baguette. The other half was stuck in his gums.
"I just popped it off," he said, laughing. "I've got to roll with this for a little while but that's fine. The Caps, those boys play with no teeth. I can play with no teeth."
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.
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 (2-3), 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. He 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.
"One thing that we continue to focus on is who can perform best under sub-optimal conditions," Kapler said. "So optimal conditions are a packed house and really fired up and energetic and suboptimal conditions are when you have more challenging situations. And I think today was a more challenging situation and we always challenge our guys to do the best under those circumstances that they possibly can."
COMING UP SHORT
The Phillies used four shortstops.
The Phillies have played four doubleheaders this season, their most since 2011. They've played three at Citizens Bank Park since the All-Star break.
MOVING ON UP
The Phillies recalled RHP Drew Anderson, RHP Enyel De Los Santos and LHP Ranger Suarez from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Philadelphia's Jake Arrieta (10-9, 3.61 ERA) goes against Tanner Roark (8-15, 4.23) in the nightcap.
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