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Gaffe by pinch-running pitcher costs Phils, Nats win 5-4

PHILADELPHIA — Pinch-running pitcher Vince Velasquez was called out for leaving second base early while tagging up, resulting in a game-ending double play that gave the Washington Nationals a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.

After Aaron Nola outpitched Max Scherzer for the second time in six days in a matchup of NL Cy Young Award contenders, the Phillies watched Washington rally for three runs in the ninth to take a 5-3 lead.

Ramos got Philadelphia within a run with a pinch-hit double in the ninth, and Velasquez pinch-ran for the catcher. Greg Holland relieved and retired Jorge Alfaro on a flyball to center, with Velasquez moving to third as the potential tying run.

But the Nationals appealed that Velasquez left too soon, and he was called out. A replay upheld the ruling.

Anthony Rendon hit a go-ahead, two-run homer off Pat Neshek (1-1) in the Nationals ninth. The Nationals trailed 3-2 when Bryce Harper drew a leadoff walk from Tommy Hunter. Neshek surrendered Rendon’s 17th homer, and Washington added another run on an error after Ryan Zimmerman hit his third double of the game.

It was the latest gut-wrenching loss for the Phillies, who are 6-13 since Aug. 8 and fell 4 ½ games behind NL East-leading Atlanta.

Alfaro and Odubel Herrera hit homers off Scherzer to hand Nola a 3-0 lead. But poor defense and a shaky bullpen blew it.

Nola gave up two runs — one earned — and four hits, striking out eight in seven innings. He threw eight dominant innings in Philadelphia’s 2-0 win at Washington last Thursday.

Scherzer gave up three runs and four hits in five innings, tying for his shortest outing of the season on April 4 at Atlanta.

Herrera, who hit a two-run shot off Scherzer last week, gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Batting cleanup for the first time in his career, Herrera drove a 2-2 fastball into the right-field seats for his 21st homer.

After Scott Kingery’s infield single in the fifth, Alfaro hit a two-run homer into the bushes in straightaway center field to make it 3-0.

Nola took a shutout into the seventh before Rendon led off with a single and Ryan Zimmerman hit a double with one out. Matt Wieters followed with a grounder to first. Carlos Santana stepped on the bag for the second out but made an errant throw home allowing Zimmerman to also score.

The Nationals added a run in the ninth when Zimmerman hit his career-best third double, stole third and scored on catcher Alfaro’s throwing error.

Koda Glover (1-2) tossed a scoreless eighth for the win.

ACES WILD

Nola-Scherzer II was the second matchup of starters with at least 150 innings and a sub-2.25 ERA since they did it last week. Previously, it hadn’t been done since St. Louis’ John Tudor faced Mets ace Dwight Gooden on Sept. 11, 1985. Nola lowered his ERA to 2.10 and Scherzer’s rose to 2.22.

JOEY BATS

The Phillies acquired veteran slugger Jose Bautista from the New York Mets for a player to be named or cash. Bautista batted .196 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs for the Braves and Mets this season. A six-time All-Star for Toronto from 2010-15, the 37-year-old Bautista has 342 career homers. He struck out swinging as a pinch-hitter in the seventh.

YOU’RE OUTTA HERE

Nationals pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds was ejected after being called out on strikes in the eighth. After walking toward the dugout, he came back and threw his batting gloves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: Closer Sean Doolittle threw a full bullpen session before the game and he’s scheduled to pitch a simulated game Friday. The All-Star lefty has been on the disabled list since July 10 with left toe inflammation.

Phillies: Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff is expected to make another start for Triple-A Lehigh Valley before he’s recalled after rosters are expanded. Eickhoff hasn’t pitched in the majors this season because of a strained lat and a finger injury.

UP NEXT

RHP Jake Arrieta (9-9, 3.57) goes for Philadelphia and LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-11, 4.35) starts for the Nationals in the series finale Wednesday. The Phillies are 12-13 in Arrieta’s starts. He’s 1-2, 4.89 in 11 starts vs. Washington. Gonzalez is 11-7, 2.69 in 25 starts vs. Philadelphia.